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Athletics: Holmes finally ends the misery

KELLY HOLMES returns to competition on Sunday aiming to prove she is on course to defend her Commonwealth title in Kuala Lumpur next month.

The 1500m champion will end months of agony when she takes on the Americans in the Spar British Challenge at Glasgow's Scotstoun stadium.

At the lowest point of her struggle to recover from injury, Holmes, the former army sergeant who announced her arrival on the international scene by winning silver and bronze medals at the 1995 World Championships, feared she might never be able to race again.

Favourite for gold at the same championships in Athens last year, she limped off the track with a serious Achilles injury that threatened her future in the sport. But after fighting her way back to fitness with an intensive physiotherapy programme, the 28-year-old cannot wait to resume her racing career again on Sunday, when she will face Britain's European Cup 5,000m champion, Paula Radcliffe, in the mile.

"There have been times this winter when I really thought I would never get fit for this summer, but I have and I cannot wait to race in Glasgow," Holmes said. "I ran a low-key 3,000 metres at the weekend which confirmed to me that everything is now fully recovered. I am short of specific race sharpness but my training has been pretty good. I am really looking forward to racing Paula to let me know exactly where I am."

Radcliffe will also be aiming to regain form before thoughts turn to Kuala Lumpur in just over a fortnight's time. She managing only a disappointing fifth place in the 10,000m at the European Championships in Budapest last week.

The Scotstoun event will see the first outings on home soil of many of Britain's heroes since their magnificent performances in the Hungarian capital.