Athletics: Campbell determined to tackle world stage

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The Independent Online
DARREN CAMPBELL'S performance in the chill surroundings of Lausanne's Stade de la Pontaise on Tuesday night has convinced him to take up his place in Britain's World Cup team next month.

But Mark Richardson, fourth in a 400m won by Olympic champion Michael Johnson, came away from the same meeting having drawn the opposite conclusion about his own course of action.

Campbell, who took himself to a new level in winning the European 100m title in 10.04sec last week, had been undecided about taking up the invitation to represent Britain in Johannesburg between September 11 and 13 against sides assembled from the United States, the Americas, Africa, Europe and the host nation.

But after a run of 10.18sec had kept him in touch with, if not quite alongside, some of the world's leading sprinters, he has added the World Cup to his agenda.

"I wanted to see what I could do running races back to back first," he said. "I didn't want to be slipping back below 10.30, and I haven't. I think I'll be OK for the World Cup now." While his rivals were well rested, Campbell - who gained a second European gold in Saturday's sprint relay - had travelled to Switzerland the day before after getting less than three hours of sleep. "Obviously you have to celebrate, haven't you?" he said with a grin.

Campbell's next imperative, however, is rest. After his race he was feeling an old injury in his right hamstring which had tightened up in the blustery conditions. He is due to return to competition in this Sunday's match at Glasgow between Britain and the United States.

Richardson, whose season got under way with such huge promise when he defeated Johnson in Oslo with a time of 44.37sec, is a far less buoyant figure than Campbell. The 25-year-old Windsor athlete, a weary fourth behind Johnson in Lausanne in 45.22sec, fulfilled his obligations in the European 400m relay final by holding off the challenge of Poland's record holder Robert Mackowiak on the last leg. But he is still clearly shaken by his failure to do better than bronze in the individual final, where his great domestic rival Iwan Thomas earned the title he had coveted.

"Beating Iwan in the Commonwealth Games would make up for the Europeans," he said. Accordingly, he is almost certain to turn down the invitation to run in the relay team in Johannesburg, preferring to prepare single- mindedly for his season's target in Kuala Lumpur later in the month. "My priorities have changed now," he added.

Priorities in Lausanne began to change soon after the sun had slipped below the horizon and and the wind had begun to come off Lake Geneva. By the time the men's 100m took place, the aim of breaking Donovan Bailey's world record of 9.84sec - stated, as usual, by the hyperactive Ato Boldon - had been amended, in the athletes' minds if not those of the chilled spectators. Given the circumstances, the winning time of 9.92sec by the world champion, Maurice Greene, was hugely respectable.

By the same token, Colin Jackson's time of 13.09sec in the 110m hurdles was outstanding so soon after winning the European Championship, though he was pipped to the line by his great rival, the American Allen Johnson, who recorded 0.02sec faster than the Welshman.