ATHLETICS : Chance of repeat show for Christie

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Britain's new world record holder is due to compete on home ground this Saturday against the two men who pushed him to his latest achievement.

Linford Christie, who lowered the world indoor 200 metres mark to 20.25sec in Livin on Sunday, is down to run the long sprint again in the KP Classic at Birmingham against the world champion, Frankie Fredericks, and fellow Briton John Regis.

The world and Olympic 100m champion may also decide to compete at next month's World Indoor Championships. His coach, Ron Roddan, said yesterday that it was "50-50" whether he would go.

"The British Federation has asked Linford to make his final decision this weekend. We will discuss it between ourselves. There is no reason why he can't do it. But at the moment we don't know what the Barcelona track will be like, or what other runners will be there. Linford needs someone there to have a race against if he wants to get a good time."

Roddan knew Christie was in good shape after a fourth consecutive winter's training in Australia, but his reaction to the performance in Livin, which he watched on television, formed itself in two words: "Bloody hell!"

Christie's level of fitness, in Roddan's estimation, is the same as it has been for the last few years. That he now finds himself a world record holder, Roddan believes, is down to the improvements in technique he has made while training in Sydney with Fredericks.

"In the 200m you have just got to get it right," Roddan said. "Frankie and Linford spent a lot of time discussing different ways to run races. I think Linford has helped Frankie with starting, and Linford has improved his bend running."

The end result on Sunday was sheer delight for Christie. "When he phoned me afterwards he was very pleased," Roddan said. "He was pleased with a European record in the 60m. But running against two 200m specialists from the outside lane - and cleaning them out - and getting a world record as well, that was like the icing and the candles and the lights on the cake. It made his day."

Bruno Marie Rose, who had set the old world record of 20.36sec in the same stadium and same outside lane eight years previously, was phlegmatic about seeing his own mark beaten.

"It was in the logic of things," he said. "Lane six is ideal for a pure sprinter. You benefit straight away from a descent which gives you a psychological advantage over your opponents."

Christie also went into the race knowing that in breaking his European 60m record less than an hour previously he had, as it were, done his bit. He could afford to look on his first 200m in a year as something of a bonus.

Regis, who had talked so hopefully the previous weekend about the world record going at Livin, had it all to prove. The strain showed in the way he veered into the lanes either side of him, an infraction which disqualified him and annulled a time of 20.42 that would have been a personal best by 0.05sec.

Christie's attitude to the longer sprint has fluctuated over the years. Having set a British record at the 1988 Olympics, he was disappointed when Regis, rather than he, became the first Briton to run the distance in under 20 seconds.

After making his first domestic appearance of the season in Glasgow earlier this month, he said: "My attitude is that nobody cares if you are the fastest 200m runner in the world."

And yet he went on to say that he intended to run a lot more 200s this year, and that he would also go under 20 seconds before he left the sport. Sunday's performance leaves no one in any doubt about his ability to do that.