ATHLETICS: Flying Scot Curbishley sets the pace

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The Independent Online
ALLISON CURBISHLEY gave yesterday's Spar British Challenge in Glasgow an ideal start when she lowered her own Scottish 400 metres record to 50.73 seconds. Curbishley was pressed all the way down the finishing straight by her team-mate, Katherine Merry, who ran the 200 metres at the recent European Championships, but indicated her immense potential over one lap by contributing a leg in 50.4 as the 400m relay team won the Bronze medal. Merry was timed at 51.02sec.

Linford Christie returned to competitive action at the age of 36 this weekend and demonstrated that he has maintained a high level of fitness since officially retiring from the track last summer.

The former World and Olympic 100 metres champion, who now coaches a group of athletes including Darren Campbell, who took over Christie's European title earlier this month, turned out for his club Puma TVH in Saturday's Gold Cup at Bedford. He won in a time of 10.38 seconds, a performance that he described afterwards as being a warm-up for tomorrow's IAAF Golden League meeting in Berlin.

There, Christie will team up in an invitation relay event with Campbell and two other talented young British sprinters - Christian Malcolm, the World Junior 100 and 200m Champion, and the European Silver Medallist, Dwain Chambers.

Speaking earlier this year, Christie said that he would not contemplate making any kind of serious comeback, especially as he was now coaching younger runners in his specialist event. But he did not rule out running for his club if required, and he estimated that he would be able to achieve a time of about 10.03 seconds.

Meanwhile, another of Britain's younger generation of sprinters, the 25-year-old European 200 metres champion Doug Walker, has said he believes he has an "outside chance" of running in the Commonwealth Games next month despite having had an operation on his knee only last Thursday.

The organisers of Scotland's Commonwealth Team have offered Walker a place on the official flight out to Kuala Lumpur on Saturday, although they have emphasised that the decision to take up the offer is Walker's alone.

The leading French sprinter, Christine Arron, has had to pull out of the Berlin gathering. She became the third fastest woman of all time earlier this month when she clocked 10.73 seconds to win the women's European 100 metres title, but will miss another showdown with the American world champion, Marion Jones.