Athletics: Christie's hopes are hamstrung: Injury stalls Olympic champion as world records are split in two

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The Independent Online
LINFORD CHRISTIE'S prospects of success this season remained in doubt yesterday after his German specialist confirmed that he had suffered damage to his hamstring in the meeting at Crystal Palace last Friday.

The Olympic and world champion said in a statement that he was 'hopeful' of being fit to defend his European 100m title in Helsinki next month.

Christie will return to Munich next week for further treatment from Dr Muller Wolfhardt, who was with the German football team at the World Cup. The sprinter confirmed that he would miss the match between Great Britain and the United States at Gateshead tonight, the Grand Prix meeting in Oslo on Friday and a Goodwill Games race with the new 100m world record holder, Leroy Burrell, in St Petersburg next Monday.

Colin Jackson, who pulled out of his 110m hurdles in London with a groin strain, will be back in action in Oslo. But he too plans to return to Munich for more treatment.

In the absence of Christie and Jackson, John Regis and Tony Jarrett head Britain's men's team for the KP Classic tonight, where the American visitors form what is effectively somewhere between a 'B' and a 'C' team.

Sally Gunnell who, after the 400m hurdles defeat in Nice on Monday night, talked about the pressure she felt to perform in home meetings, faces more of the same as she captains a team who could earn their first victory over the United States in 25 years. Gunnell runs in the 400m flat against a field who include the Olympic finalist, Rochelle Stevens.

Despite the disappointment of losing her first 400m hurdles race since the Grand Prix final last year, Gunnell drew some satisfaction from her time of 53.91sec behind Kim Batten's 53.72. That kind of running should give her a comfortable advantage at the European Championships in three weeks' time.

The crucial question for many Britons competing tonight is whether Helsinki will come around for them.

At 800m, Martin Steele, whose 1min 43.84sec in Oslo was the second fastest time run last year, is still looking for a run inside Britain's European qualifying time of 1:46.8 this season.

Matthew Yates ran well inside the 1500m qualifying time of 3min 38sec on Monday, but the fact that he finished only seventh in his race in Nice may have left him requiring to show extra competitiveness tonight when he is a guest in a field who include Kevin McKay and John Mayock, both of whom also have points to prove to the selectors.

At 100m, Darren Braithwaite, Michael Rosswess and Jason John will seek to fill the two places which may be on offer beside Christie.