Athletics: Climate and form point to a Christie victory: World and Olympic champions play down the implications of tonight's Gateshead showdown for World Championships in Stuttgart

CARL LEWIS flew into Britain on business last night. If he gets a result, it will be worth pounds 100,000 to him. If he doesn't get a result, it will be worth pounds 100,000 to him.

The question of money at tonight's high-profile, high-earning 100 metres challenge against Linford Christie, who takes an equal share, has already been settled. Two others remain. Who will win? Does it matter?

The weather forecast for the Gateshead area later today - showers, sometimes heavy, moving from the west, light to moderate south-west winds - offers a strong climatic case for the home runner. Especially when one considers that the expected temperature of 66F is nearly 30 below what Lewis has been training in every day in his home city of Houston.

'If it is cold in Gateshead,' Lewis said this week, 'it doesn't matter, because that is a factor I cannot change. I have to deal with it.'

It sounded like the kind of thing football managers say after they say, 'I don't want to make excuses, but. . .' Then again, he showed in Lausanne last month, when a chill wind was tugging at the flags around the rim of the Stade de la Pontaise, that he does not need exotic conditions to flourish. His victory in 19.99sec, over a 200m field which included the Olympic champion, his Santa Monica team-mate Mike Marsh and the world champion, Michael Johnson, was highly significant. Both for him, and the hothouse world of sprinting, where conclusions had been drawn about advancing age after the 32-year-old had struggled to qualify for the World Championships in third place at the US Olympic trials.

That marked the end of the European tour part 1 for Lewis. He now embarks on part 2, starting at the Vauxhall Invitation meeting in Gateshead tonight and proceeding to Zurich on Wednesday en route to the World Championships, which start in Stuttgart on 14 August.

Unlike Christie, who is unbeaten in five 100m races this season, Lewis has not won once in four attempts. But his legal best of 10.07 is only one hundredth of a second slower than Christie's this year. And in between his European trips he has worked hard on his start and pick-up. 'I'm in the condition now that everyone else was a month ago,' he says. Add to that his career record over Christie at 100m - 12 wins to one - and a case begins to be formed for the American.

Christie has done all that has been asked of him so far this season, winning at the European Cup and in Oslo. But despite his avowals that there is no problem with his back, he has not always looked fluent and has had to work harder than usual in the later stages of his races.

That, of course, is where Lewis has always gone for the kill. These two are the fastest finishers in the world; the Gateshead track is likely to bear scorchmarks around 70 metres. Given the weather, and that intangible, home advantage, Christie should win.

There is a faint possibility that one of the 100m bit players, such as Calvin Smith, the former world record holder who ran Christie close in Edinburgh, or John Drummond, the World Student Games champion who also stretched him at Crystal Palace, might upset the carefully prepared drama.

That would be very inconvenient for the event as a promotion - Leroy Burrell, who had wanted to run the 100m, has been switched to the 200m. While the race has not attracted the US television channels, an expected British television audience of 10 million viewers will not want or expect the Olympic champion and the world champion to fill supporting places.

But would it matter? Lewis talked about the confidence boost such a victory would have - 'It will set the tone for people to judge our competitive spirit by.' But he says it will be no guide to Stuttgart. Christie also says victory here will not mean victory in the World Championships. It may be that a result - in the form of expected ratings - will be most vital to one of the main sponsors, ITV, who will soon have to renegotiate their contract for athletics.

Elsewhere, there are less expensive but nevertheless pressing matters to be decided. Steve Cram seeks a 1500m qualifying time in front of his home crowd, Britain's women 1500m runners seek anybody who can gain a qualifying time, and in a high quality 300m, Marsh, Johnson and Britain's John Regis test their relative merits.

Lewis' sprint rivalry, page 32

----------------------------------------------------------------- CHRISTIE v LEWIS: THE COMPLETE RECORD ----------------------------------------------------------------- Date Dist Venue Round Result Aug 86 100m Zurich - 3 Lewis 10.25; 5 Christie 10.27 Jun 87 100m Madrid - 1 L 10.12; 4 C 10.22 Aug 87 100m Rome W Champ final 1 L 9.93; 3 C 10.14* Aug 88 100m Zurich - 1 L 9.93; 5 C 10.07 Sep 88 100m Seoul Olympic final 1 L 9.92; 2 C 9.97* Sep 88 200m Seoul Olympic final 2 L 19.79; 4 C 20.09 (GB R) Aug 89 100m Zurich - 1 L 10.09; 5 C 10.23 Sep 89 100m M Carlo - 2 C 10.19; 3 L 10.30 Jul 90 100m Oslo - 1 L 10.26; 2 C 10.27 Aug 91 100m Malmo - 2 L 10.13; 4 C 10.18 Aug 91 100m Zurich - 2 L 10.12; 4 C 10.26 Aug 91 100m Tokyo W Champ q/f 1 L 9.80; 2 C 9.90** Aug 91 100m Tokyo W Champ final 1 L 9.86 (WR); 4 C 9.92 (ER) *Ben Johnson subsequently stripped of title **illegal following wind ----------------------------------------------------------------- CHRISTIE FILE ----------------------------------------------------------------- Born: St Andrews, Jamaica Age: 33 Height: 6ft 2 1/2 in Weight: 12st 9lb Lives: London Club: Thames Valley Harriers Sprint titles: 100m (1992 Olympics; 1986, 1990 Euro pean Championships; 1990 Commonwealth) Fastest 100m: 9.92sec (1991) Records: British, European, Commonwealth Fastest 1993: 10.06sec ----------------------------------------------------------------- LEWIS FILE ----------------------------------------------------------------- Born: Birmingham, Alabama Age: 32 Height: 6ft 2in Weight: 12st 8lb Lives: Houston Club: Santa Monica Track Sprint titles: 100m (1984, 1988 Olympics; 1983, 1987, 1991 World Champion ships). 200m (1984 Olym pics) Fastest 100m: 9.86sec (1991) Records: US, world Fastest 1993: 10.07sec -----------------------------------------------------------------

(Photograph omitted)

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
CSKA Moscow celebrate after equalising with a late penalty

Arts and Entertainment
Life and Style

Company reveals $542m investment in start-up building 'a rocket ship for the mind'

Bourgogne wine maker Laboure-Roi vice president Thibault Garin (L) offers the company's 2013 Beaujolais Nouveau wine to the guest in the wine spa at the Hakone Yunessun spa resort facilities in Hakone town, Kanagawa prefecture, some 100-kilometre west of Tokyo
Arts and Entertainment
James Blunt's debut album Back to Bedlam shot him to fame in 2004

Singer says the track was 'force-fed down people's throats'

Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

IT Project Manager

Competitive: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Chelmsford a...

Business Intelligence Specialist - work from home

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

Business Intelligence Specialist - work from home

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

IT Manager

£40000 - £45000 per annum + pension, healthcare,25 days: Ashdown Group: An est...

Day In a Page

Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Let's talk about loss

We need to talk about loss

Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album