Athletics: Experience wins Akabusi another European call: Cadogan's technical failings cost him trip to Rome while Smith is asked to compete for team place in jump-off

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The Independent Online
BRITAIN'S selectors yesterday placed their faith in the experience of those competitors who have excelled in the last two European Cups as they named their team for this year's event in Rome. For Gary Cadogan, who will not make the trip despite winning the 400 metres hurdles at the weekend's Pearl British Championships, the policy appeared to be a triumph of experience over hope.

Cadogan, who has taken up hurdles from a background of flat 400m running, broke 50 seconds on Sunday in what was only his fifth hurdles race. He also broke one of the hurdles, which was one less than he broke in the qualifying round, but which nevertheless influenced the selectors as they pondered their choice for the two-day event at the end of this month. They have chosen to rely on Kriss Akabusi, a victor in the last two European Cup finals.

'Watching Gary race at the weekend, you could see the potential for running under 49 seconds, but you could also see the potential for him not finishing,' Tony Ward, a spokesman for British athletics, said.

Immediately after his victory, Cadogan, a 26-year-old with a full- time job as an advertising salesman for the Kilburn Times, spoke in excited tones about competing in Rome. 'I've got to really concentrate on my technique,' he said. 'The European Cup is very important to Britain.'

Following the news that Britain has decided it is too important to entrust the opening event to him, Cadogan was diplomacy itself. 'I'm disappointed, but I half expected it,' he said yesterday. 'Frank Dick (the national director of coaching) was concerned that I would be unable to cope with the hurdles if I found two or three people ahead of me. I'm the UK champion, but Kriss has proved himself at the Commonwealth Games, the European championships and the Olympics. On that basis he is the one to go, and I phoned him this afternoon to wish him all the best.'

Cadogan's coach, the former international 400m hurdler Gary Oakes, was less sanguine about the decision to pick the 34-year-old Akabusi, who planned to retire from major competition this season and who had urged the selectors to give Cadogan the same sort of chance that he was given as a raw talent in 1987.

'I would in no way blame or criticise Kriss,' Oakes said. 'But I feel sorry for him because I think selectors have put undue pressure on him to run when he doesn't really want to. I saw Frank Dick crawling all over Kriss after the meeting on Sunday and I knew what was happening. Nothing's changed in their policy since my day. They should have selected Gary and given him a chance. He wouldn't have let his country down.'

The other area of controversy in the team announcement concerned the high jump, where Steve Smith, who headed the world rankings last season, has been asked to jump off against Dalton Grant at this Saturday's Pearl International Games at Belfast. Grant won the British title with 2.25m; Smith, who jumped 2.33 off just five strides two weeks ago, managed only 2.05. He was still jumping off a short approach run, and said he viewed the event as training.

'Steve's approach showed no respect,' Dick said. 'It's rude to the other competitors and disrespectful to selectors and I'll be talking to his coach about it.'

Smith responded: 'It sounds like they are trying to punish me for something I haven't done. Maybe the British Athletic Federation should have shown me a bit of respect and credit after all the effort I've put in for them this year.

'I wasn't being big-headed at Crystal Palace - and whatever happens in the jump-off, if they pick Dalton, they're picking the wrong man.'

Linford Christie, selected for an attempt to win a fourth straight 100m title and included in the relay squad, leads a team which includes six defending champions.

Tom McKean, despite not having a run this year, has been given the chance to achieve an unprecedented fifth win in the 800m.

Meanwhile, Paula Radcliffe, who laboured to fourth place behind the winner, Yvonne Murray, in Sunday's 3,000m world championship trial, has been picked for Stuttgart along with Alison Wyeth, who was second.

BRITISH TEAM FOR ROME

MEN

100m L Christie (Thames Valley). 200m J Regis (Belgrave). 400m D Grindley (Wigan). 800m T McKean (Motherwell). 1500m C Robb (Liverpool). 5,000m R Denmark (Basildon). 10,000m E Martin (Basildon). 3,000m steeplechase T Buckner (Havant). 110m hurdles C Jackson (Brecon). 400m hurdles K Akabusi (Team Solent). High jump S Smith (Liverpool) or D Grant (Haringey). Long jump F Salle (Belgrave). Triple jump J Edwards (Gateshead). Pole vault N Winter (Shaftesbury). Shot P Edwards (Belgrave). Discus R Weir (Birchfield). Hammer P Head (Newham). Javelin M Hill (Leeds). 4 x 100m relay (from) Christie, Regis, J John (Newham), T Jarrett (Haringey), D Campbell (Sale). 4 x 400m relay (from) Akabusi, Grindley, Regis, D Ladejo (Belgrave), M Richardson (Windsor), R Black (T Solent), D McKenzie (Shaftesbury).

WOMEN

100m B Kinch (Hounslow). 200m K Merry (Birchfield). 400m P Smith (Wigan). 800m D Modahl (Sale). 1500m A Wyeth (Parkside). 3,000m Y Murray (Motherwell). 10,000m L McColgan (Dundee). 100m hurdles J Agyepong (Shaftesbury). 400m hurdles S Gunnell (Essex). High jump J Jennings (Essex). Long jump F May (Derby). Triple jump M Griffith (Windsor). Shot M Augee (Bromley). Discus J McKernan (Lisburn). Javelin S Gibson (Notts). 4 x 100m relay (from) Kinch, Merry, M Richardson (Windsor), P Thomas (Trafford), G McLeod (Birchfield), A N Other. 4 x 400m relay (from) Smith, Modahl, L Keough (Basingstoke), J Stoute (Essex), L Hanson (Birchfield).

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