Athletics: Christie runs for his pride

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The Independent Online
LINFORD CHRISTIE, who saw his training partner Colin Jackson win pounds 80,000-worth of gold bars in Berlin on Tuesday, will seek his own jackpot in Paris today at the IAAF Grand Prix final. He will also seek to avoid a third successive defeat over 100 metres, writes Mike Rowbottom.

Christie's run of success was ended by Jon Drummond in Rieti, Italy, last Sunday. Then another American, Dennis Mitchell, got the better of him in Berlin.

The trio resume their rivalry today at an event which has benefited from the rule amendment last year which means that any athlete winning on the night automatically becomes Grand Prix champion at that event, thus earning pounds 20,000 from a total of pounds 1.4m in prize money.

Jackson shared the 20 gold bars on offer in the Golden Four events involving Oslo, Zurich, Brussels and Berlin with the only other athlete to win at each of the meetings, the long jumper Mike Powell. But today will not be another huge pay day for him, as the 110m hurdles is not a named event on the official Grand Prix programme this season. Even so, he will have the incentive of defending a 100 per cent record - 19 straight victories this season.

Roger Black, who ran his fastest 400m this season, 44.78sec, at Rieti on Sunday, will not lack incentive in a race that includes the Briton who deprived him of a third European title, Du'aine Ladejo.

Noureddine Morceli, the world mile, 1500 and 3,000m world record holder who is overall leader in the grand prix standings, said yesterday that he may not run because he is suffering from flu.

'I know I could forfeit the dollars 130,000 ( pounds 86,000) overall prize money if I don't run but money is not everything in this life,' Morceli said. 'If I do lose out on the prize money I can always add another couple of races to my schedule before the end of season.'

Ireland's Sonia O'Sullivan, the European 3,000m champion, is one of five in line for the overall women's prize of pounds 66,000 on a night when all performances earn triple the normal points.

There is no rest for Britain's elite athletes, who will be turning out in the McDonald's Games at Sheffield tomorrow for what has recently been a celebratory event following major championships. The doping controversy which has embroiled Britain will make uninhibited celebration difficult, but there is sufficient to take the public's mind off darker matters.

Christie is due to take on John Regis over 150m, while Black and Ladejo meet over 300m. More recognised events promise as much competition - Steve Smith takes on the man who beat him to the European high jump title, Steinar Hoen; Jackson races against Tony Jarrett and the Olympic champion Mark McKoy; and the javelin features the man who broke the world record at Sheffield last year, Jan Zelezny, against the European and Commonwealth champion Steve Backley, and the world bronze medallist Mick Hill.