Athletics: Christie calls it a day

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Linford Christie announced yesterday that he is giving up running.

The 37-year-old former world and Olympic 100m champion made his statement while commenting for BBC TV on yesterday's sprint relays.

"I woke up this morning and decided I didn't miss this tension any more," he said. "I though to myself, 'what's the point in carrying on?'. I've decided that I don't want to run again."

Christie has made similar announcements more than once. He threatened to quit after missing a medal in the 1991 world championships, and said in 1995 that he would not contest the 1996 Olympics. But he has stuck to his recent resolve to retire from international appearance after captaining Britain to a European Cup victory.

If he doesn't appear on Wednesday at the Zurich grand prix, where he has appeared for the last seven years and where he is due to earn an appearance fee of around pounds 35,000, it will surely represent confirmation of his intent.

That would mean his final competitive appearance came on 29 July for his club, Puma TVH, in the GRE Cup semi-final, when he set a Cup record. Christie, the man who only rose to international prominence at the age of 26, will have come full circle.

It means that in the space of three days, Britain has lost three of its greatest ever athletes - Christie's comments follow the retirements of Sally Gunnell and Tessa Sanderson on Thursday.

Christie seemed taken aback when told of Gunnell's decision. "I'll have to talk to her about this. Sally's got years left ahead of her. But," he added with a smile, "I'm not the person to talk about retirements."

If, however, Christie does hold true to his word, it is clear that he will still be closely involved with the sport. He has been ubiquituous at these championships, talking on television, and making himself apparent at the British team hotel.

On Thursday he was round and about in the lobby, joking with other athletes, and - in the case of Owusu Dako, who ran disappointingly in failing to qualify from the 200m first round - taking him to task in blunt terms.

He coaches a number of young British athletes now, including Jamie Baulch and Darren Campbell, and he spoke this week of the different approach he has to the sport.

"It's a different kind of tension watching athletes you coach on the track," he said. "Watching the finals here, I don't miss it like I thought I might."