Athletics: Christie hits the heights in Heysel: World champions confirm their class as Jackson claims 14th successive victory of the season

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The Independent Online
LINFORD CHRISTIE, making his final European appearance before defending his Commonwealth title in Canada, underscored his status as the world's best sprinter last night.

On a chilly evening at the Heysel Stadium in Brussels, he won the 100 metres in a time of 10.03sec. If it shines in Victoria next week, a sub-10- second performance looks a certainty.

Two days after defeating the best the world could assemble in a rainswept Zurich, the 34-year-old faced another strong field which lacked only the world record holder, Leroy Burrell, who has a foot injury. Christie took 30 metres to draw level with the fast-starting Americans, Jon Drummond and Dennis Mitchell, but pulled away from the 40 metres mark for another emphatic win. Mitchell was timed at 10.12sec and Drummond at 10.16.

Colin Jackson, with a 14th consecutive victory, set himself up perfectly for a defence of his Commonwealth 110m hurdles title. He also retained an interest in taking a share of the 20 one-kilo gold bars - worth dollars 20,000 ( pounds 13,333) each - on offer to those winning their event in all of the Golden Four meetings. Victory in the last of the meetings, at Berlin on 30 August, will secure the prize. The only other man in contention, the world long jump champion Mike Powell, paid a price for his victorious leap of 8.58m, sustaining a groin injury upon landing.

Jackson won in 13.22sec ahead of Germany's European silver medallist Florian Schwarthoff, who ran 13.44, and the Olympic champion Mark McKoy, timed at 13.45.

Steve Backley, who retained his European javelin title last week, gave cause for alarm as he pulled out of the meeting after warming up. Afterwards, however, he said that his pursuit of a second Commonwealth title was not in doubt. 'I was a bit sore after competing in Zurich, and my adductor was twanging away, so I decided not to take any chances. I'm getting wise in my old age.' In his absence, the Olympic and world champion Jan Zelezny won with 88.34m.

There were two extraordinary performances. In the women's 1500m, the Jamaican pacemaker Yvonne Graham felt sufficiently good after 1200m to push on for the finish after the rest of the field, including Hassiba Boulmerka and Sonia O'Sullivan, failed to go with her. Graham won in 4min 04.36sec, with a special little smile. In the pole vault, there was an extraordinary performance from the judges, who allowed a 5.95m vault by Sergei Bubka, which mysteriously dislodged the pole, to count. It proved to be the winning 'vault'.

The 100m took place without one of Christie's main challengers in Victoria, Olapade Adeniken, who suffered cuts and bruising to his face in a brawl with Mitchell after the Zurich Grand Prix.

But sources within the IAAF said yesterday that athletes and managers throughout the sport are to be warned by officials - including the head of competitions, Sandro Giovanelli - that such incidents must not be repeated. 'They will be told that if anything like this ever happens again, there will be hell to pay,' a spokesman said.

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