Athletics: Grindley finally forced to withdraw

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The Independent Online
DAVID GRINDLEY, Britain's No 1 400m runner and a genuine medal contender for the World Championships starting in Stuttgart tomorrow, has become the latest big name to withdraw from the British team.

Grindley aggravated a leg injury in beating the Olympic champion, Quincy Watts, and the world record- holder, Butch Reynolds, to finish second behind Michael Johnson in Zurich last week. The leg has failed to respond to treatment and yesterday the 20-year-old from Wigan was finally persuaded to pull out.

'I gave the team officials an argument about it but, in the end, I understand what could have happened and I've got a long future ahead of me,' said Grindley, who was warned that he risked jeopardising his career if he were to compete. He is still hopeful of taking part in the 4 x 400m relay.

Grindley's withdrawal was greeted with despair by Britain's chief coach, Frank Dick, who has already seen Eamonn Martin, Liz McColgan, Peter Elliott, Derek Redmond, Roger Black, Jon Ridgeon and Jill Hunter withdraw through injury. 'We have to have serious discussions with coaches and agents to have a more judicious approach to how they prepare their athletes for major competitions,' he said. 'Is it sensible to be going for world-class performances just 10 days before a major championship - especially with young athletes?'

Grindley rose to prominence by breaking Redmond's British record on the way to last year's Olympic final, and he was joined on the sidelines yesterday by another Olympic 400m finalist, Phylis Smith, who withdrew because of a hamstring injury. Linda Keogh will take her place.

There was better news of two of Britain's few remaining medal hopes, high-hurdler Colin Jackson and former javelin world record-holder Steve Backley. Jackson was reported to be training well in Monte Carlo, while Backley has said he will be fit after receiving a cortisone injection in his throwing shoulder.

Noureddine Morceli, Algeria's world 1500m champion, has been threatened with a two-month ban from the sport if he refuses to compete at the world championships. Morceli has said he will only compete if he is paid, as he believes Carl Lewis, the world 100m champion, is being paid. The International Amateur Athletic Federation, and Lewis's manager Joe Douglas, have denied the allegation.

Lewis confirmed yesterday that he has been carrying a back injury this season, sustained in a car crash in February, but said that it would not affect his chances of defending his title successfully. 'I wouldn't say it's a problem, but it's been a matter of concern all year,' he said.

Holmes' late run, page 31