Athletics / European Athletics Championships: Pride of Wales is a class apart

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The Independent Online
COLIN JACKSON became the second Briton to emphasise superiority as a hurdler here last night - but he had a far harder task in doing so than Sally Gunnell, writes Mike Rowbottom from Helsinki.

Despite the absence of the Olympic champion Mark McKoy - who withdrew yesterday after aggravating a groin injury in the heats - he was put under pressure right to the line by Florian Schwarthoff, one of three Germans in the final, and his fellow Briton Tony Jarrett, who took the bronze medal in 13.23sec.

Jackson's winning time of 13.08 was slower by 0.04 than the championship record he had produced an hour earlier in a semi-final which he won by five metres. That was an achievement which prompted George Boroi, the Romanian, to stand and clap the 27- year-old Welshman in admiration.

Afterwards, Jackson turned his attention to the possibility of matching Gunnell's grand slam. 'I think that as an athlete of my calibre now I have to try to win all the titles that are available to me. If I want to become one of the great UK athletes I think I will have to try and do that myself.'

Next, however, he will travel to Zurich with the intention of lowering his world record of 12.91. If McKoy's injury responds to treatment, he may face him there.

'I was disappointed for Mark, because I knew he was anxious to run well here for his new country,' Jackson said. 'He has gone back home to Austria for treatment and hopefully he will be there in Zurich.'

Jackson's swift semi-final performance had been partly a matter of psychological warfare. 'I wanted to go out there and give a performance that made the others think, 'Yeah. That's pretty quick'.' He certainly managed that.

Jackson had already announced that he would not be running in today's sprint relay. Yesterday the team learned that it would not, after all, be regaining the services of John Regis. The first man to win four medals at a single European Championships, in 1990, thus became the first to pull out of a European Championships twice.

Regis, who withdrew last Sunday because of an Achilles tendon injury, flew back again on Thursday with a view to competing in the relay following an improvement in his condition.

The British Athletic Federation was keen to see the extent of Regis's injury, but after a scan yesterday he was advised by the team doctor, Malcolm Brown, not to compete here. Regis, who will not now compete at Zurich on Wednesday, will now look forward to the Commonwealth Games - but his participation must be in doubt. Why a scan could not have been arranged back in England is as unclear as the reason why Solomon Wariso had to be flown out here to receive official notice of his positive drug test.

The IAAF plans to take action to clamp down on the increasing abuse of ephedrine. The drug is gaining in popularity among drug cheats because it can be bought openly over the counter and only commands a three-month ban. The IAAF intends to look at the problem at a meeting of its doping commission in October.

Seville, where temperatures regularly reach 40C in the summer, has bid to stage the World Championships in 1999. London, Paris and Athens are rumoured to be interested but have not made a firm offer.

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