Athletics: Four chase $1m jackpot

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The Independent Online
AND THEN there were four. The quartet of athletes still in the running for a share of the $1m jackpot on offer to those winning all their events in the IAAF Golden League compete in Brussels tonight. Haile Gebrselassie of Ethiopia (5,000m), Hichan El Guerrouj of Morocco (1500m), Bryan Bronson of the US (400m hurdles) and Marion Jones, also of the US (100m), need to extend their winning sequences in tonight's Golden League meeting - and beyond, to take in the grand prix final in Moscow next Saturday - if they are to receive a portion of the largest prize currently on offer in athletics.

Of those contenders, Jones appears likely to have the most testing challenge, although the presence in her race of France's newly-established European 100m champion, Christine Arron, could spur both runners to new personal bests.

Jones, a former top college basketball player, has made prodigious strides since returning to the sport two years ago, winning the world title last season and lowering her best time this year to 10.71sec, making her the second fastest woman of all time after her compatriot, Florence Griffiths- Joyner.

Meanwhile, Britain's sprint coach at the 1996 Olympics, Richard Simmons, has criticised the participation of Darren Campbell in Tuesday's Lausanne grand prix. Simmons, now working as a technical adviser with the British Olympic Association, said the 25-year-old athlete should not have taken part in the race - where he finished seventh - just two days after the European Championships, where he had won gold medals in the 100m and 4x100m relay.

"It was a stupid decision to race, motivated by greed and driven by an agent," Simmons said. "The guy had been partying for the whole weekend and coming so soon after the European Championships, the race was going to be a low."

Campbell this week agreed to represent Britain in next month's World Cup in Johannesburg, which has been officially renamed the Nelson Mandela Trophy.

Jonathan Edwards will require an operation at the end of the season on a foot injury which has plagued him all year. The triple jump world record holder revealed news of the operation on his arrival in Brussels, where he will again come up against Charles Friedek, the German who beat him in Lausanne.

"I had a scan after arriving," said Edwards. "The doctor diagnosed loose pieces in the left ankle and recommended an operation."

Edwards will now miss the "welcome home" meeting for the British team in Glasgow on Sunday after their successes in the Hungarian capital, where they won nine gold, four silver and three bronze medals.