Athletics: Christie flexes sore muscles before Atlanta

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Linford Christie, who pulled out of last Friday's Oslo Grand Prix in order to have treatment on a sore hamstring, returns to action tonight in Nice. He faces the man who succeeded him as world 100 metres champion last year, Donovan Bailey.

Neither Christie nor the Canadian have managed to make any impression thus far into the season on Frankie Fredericks, who beat both in Lausanne a week ago, missing the world record by 0.01 sec. But Bailey, who has a 1996 best of 9.93, will be a serious test of Christie's fitness with the opening heats of the Olympic 100 metres only 16 days away.

Elsewhere in the meeting, Algeria's Hassiba Boulmerka makes a rare pre- championship appearance at 1500 metres, the distance at which she is world and Olympic champion. The result will be watched with interest by Britain's Kelly Holmes, beaten to the world 1500m gold by Boulmerka last summer. The 26-year-old Army sergeant pulled out of the Stockholm Grand Prix on Monday night with sinusitis and yesterday withdrew from Friday's 800m run at Crystal Palace.

It means the double world championship medallist is having to make what she describes as "the biggest decision of my life" without completing her planned schedule. She intended seeing how the two races went before settling on one or the other event - or both - in Atlanta.

Meanwhile Marie-Jo Perec of France is planning to run the 200 metres in Nice as part of her preparations for defending the Olympic 400 metres title.

The former UK 100 metres champion Bev Kinch, 32, has pulled out of the British women's sprint relay squad for the Olympic Games in Atlanta because of work commitments.