Athletics: Christie powers past a friend in speed

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The Independent Online
AS Linford Christie and Colin Jackson bounced off the plastic mattress that prevents sprinters running through the back wall of the Kelvin Hall, they appeared to be cracking their first post-race joke.

Yesterday's Pearl Assurance athletics international against Russia, the first of the season, brought Britain's world champions together at 60 metres - a distance over which they have trained with each other but never previously raced. After a prolonged pause while the judges studied a photograph, Christie was given the verdict over his friend by one-100th of a second - 6.56sec to 6.57.

It sends out confirmation, if any were needed, that Christie is going to be just as hard to beat this year as he seeks to add further Commonwealth and European titles to his Olympic and world 100m gold medals. More immediately it gives Jackson, the world 110m hurdles champion, the chance of a double at the European Indoor Championships, where he will contest the flat and the hurdles over 60m.

'It was a very, very close call,' said Christie, whose joviality became more expansive once he knew he had won. 'I knew that Colin could beat me.' During winter training in Australia they raced each other several times over 60 and 30 metres. Christie did not win once.

In winning the 60m here at the previous weekend's Scottish championships, Christie complained that he did not feel the adrenalin flowing. There were no such complaints yesterday. 'I think you realise when there is danger about,' he said. 'And Colin is danger.'

The pattern of the race was as expected, with Jackson getting out and up first into his running to take a clear lead to the half-way point. Thereafter

Christie, with his superior power and pure sprinting technique, caught him and moved marginally ahead on the line, where he appeared to run through better than the dipping hurdler.

Jackson went on to win the 60m hurdles in 7.59sec, despite hitting the first hurdle hard.

Victories by Tom McKean, in the 800m, and Steve Smith, who beat his team-mate Dalton Grant on countback in the high jump with 2.30m, helped the British men beat their counterparts by 74 points to 63, but the Russians took overall victory as their women won 75-41.

Earlier, the crowd had stood in silence as a mark of respect for Cliff Temple, the writer and coach, who died this month in tragic circumstances. A place in the press box was kept empty in memory of Temple, who would have been 47 yesterday.

The track events began ideally for the Scottish hosts as Melanie Neef, a 23-year-old from Glasgow, set a Scottish 400m record of 52.91sec, winning on what was her first senior international appearance. Neef had sufficient energy left after taking a bold lead to hold off Yelena Golesheva and Elena Ruzina, both of whom have run nearly four seconds faster than her outdoors. That makes Neef the fifth fastest Briton of all time behind Sally Gunnell, Verona Elder, Linda Keogh and Angela Piggford.

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