reports from Gateshead
The winds of fortune continue to blow against Jonathan Edwards. After last weekend's heroics in Lille, the Gateshead Harrier produced yet another enormous triple jump of 18.03 metres here yesterday. But blustery conditions in his home stadium robbed him of a world record, just as they had invalidated his efforts of 18.43m and 18.39m at the European Cup.
The man who used never to compete on Sundays because of his religious beliefs is finding the sabbath something of a mixed blessing. Of his five efforts here, only the 18.03 - six centimetres further than Willie Banks' legal world mark - took place when the following wind was over the legal limit of two metres per second at 2.9. He had to content himself with increasing his British record by two centimetres to 17.74m.
"I was a bit disappointed," he said. "But the main thing was going into the unknown to discover whether I was just going to revert to 17.20, 17.30 jumping. My whole world has been turned upside down in the last week. The phone has never stopped ringing, and I am really shattered.
"I can't believe I am jumping so far. I don't feel any different in myself, but suddenly I find people are comparing my performances with those of Bob Beamon and Butch Reynolds, who are legends in the sport. This is just me. The best thing about it is that it is focusing attention on athletics' performance, rather than money matters."
There was no ignoring the absence of Linford Christie, Colin Jackson and John Regis - still locked in a pay dispute with the British Athletic Federation - which appeared to have a direct effect upon the occasion. The crowd of 6,193 was less than half the capacity of 13,000, and was believed to be the lowest for a televised meeting here since the refurbished stadium opened in 1974.
Interviewed on ITV, the BAF executive chairman, Peter Radford, insisted that there was no more money available to offer the leading athletes. Next Friday's grand prix at Crystal Palace looms alarmingly.
Kelly Holmes emphasised her potential in the 1500m at this summer's World Championships with a characteristically bold victory in 4min 4.20sec. The field included Sonia O'Sullivan, Yvonne Murray and Paula Radcliffe, who - promisingly - took four seconds off her personal best with 4:05.61.
Rob Denmark had a comparatively disappointing experience in the 5,000m, coming third in 13min 15.83sec behind the winner Shadrack Hoff, who set a South African record of 13:14.16. Mark Richardson ran Darnell Hall close over 400m, and David Grindley took another step back after injury, but Britain's European champion, Du'Aine Ladejo, dropped out half-way with a worrying hamstring tear.
Gateshead did witness its first world record since Brendan Foster set a new 3,000m mark in 1974. Daniella Bartova of the Czech Republic, who was told she was too heavy to carry on as a gymnast after finishing 64th in the last Olympics, found gravity no problem as she improved her own pole-vault record to 4.14 metres.
Behind her, Kate Staples regained the British and Commonwealth record with a vault of 3.80m. Bartova and Staples vaulted 4.20m and 3.90m respectively in Prague last month, but records were ruled out because of the way the ground sloped in Wenceslas Square. It makes a change from the wind.