Athletics: Clouds line Lewis silver

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The Independent Online
DENISE LEWIS found a silver lining little consolation as she surveyed the wreckage of her World Championship bid in Seville yesterday.

The heptathlete finished in the runner-up spot for the second successive World Championships when she was beaten by 137 points by France's Eunice Barber in the Olympic Stadium on Sunday.

Lewis finished just 12 points short of her Commonwealth record, but was left to rue disappointing displays in the 100m hurdles - the opening event - and javelin that cost her any chance of the title.

"It was the same story for me in the hurdles in Athens and Atlanta," admitted Lewis, of previous championship disappointments. "That is something I will have to look into.

"I have to be disappointed with the silver, but I'm also disappointed not to come away with my record. It was a rollercoaster time, like I had spent an afternoon at Alton Towers.

"I would have had to have been absolutely on top form to have beaten Eunice because she was fantastic and I thought she was going to blow me away after the first two events."

Lewis battled back with a personal best in the high jump and victory in the shot before keeping in the hunt in a controversial long jump event.

The Wolverhampton athlete appealed after her best jump was ruled illegal, the French protested successfully, then a counter protest from the British camp saw the vital mark registered.

But any thoughts that it could inspire her to snatch the gold from her Sierra Leone-born rival were wrecked in the javelin, where Lewis was eight metres adrift of her best.

"I needed that mark and I believe it was right that they gave it to me," said Lewis, whose jump of 6.64m was just three centimetres short of her best.

"The woman judge must have had a problem with her vision or something, but though there might have been millimetres in it, it was not a foul.

"But I knew it was all over after the javelin. I needed to get near my best if I was going to have a chance, but there was never any chance of that and I have to be disappointed there."

Lewis, the reigning European and Commonwealth champion, will look for revenge at next year's Olympic Games in Sydney, where Barber will be a major threat to her hopes of gold.

Barber posted a career best tally of 6,861 points, finishing the seven- event competition in style with victory in the 800m.

America's Marion Jones was bidding for her second gold of the Championships in the long jump last night after defending her 100m title in fine fashion.

Jones emulated the gold medal display of her husband CJ Hunter in the shot as the Carolina couple became the first man and wife to triumph at the worlds. "All I care about is winning," said Jones. "All I want, when I show these medals to my grandchildren, is that there will be four golds."

The 23-year-old's long jump hopes faced a challenge from Italy's Slough- born Fiona May, but, if successful, few would then bet against her completing the grand slam in the 200m and a relay.

Ashia Hansen, Birmingham's world indoor triple jump champion, made it to today's outdoor final with ease, while Birchfield's Katharine Merry and Croydon's Donna Fraser will both line up in today's 400m second round.

But there will be no more appearances from Kelly Holmes after she just missed out in the 800m semi-final, unless she has a change of heart and decides to contest the 1500m as well.