ATHLETICS: Holmes flies as Radcliffe hits dead end

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The Independent Online
THE FINE balance between success and failure in international athletics was vividly illustrated at the Scotstoun Stadium here last night by Britain's two leading women middle-distance runners.

As a hugely enthusiastic crowd of 5,000 acclaimed the return of Kelly Holmes from potentially crippling injury, the team-mate she left 30 metres behind in the Spar British Challenge women's mile, Paula Radcliffe, was left to contemplate a season that appears to have reached a dead end.

Britain's team captain, devastated by her disappointing performance in the European Championship 10,000m final, is now doubtful about competing in the Commonwealth Games after finding that she has a low haemoglobin count.

"I ran here to test myself again," she said. "But I'm not going to Kuala Lumpur to run like that." Radcliffe will have further tests this week before making a final decision.

Holmes, in her first race of substance since hobbling out of last year's World Championships in tears, marked her recovery from an Achilles tendon injury that had threatened to end her career. The 28-year-old from Tunbridge finished 30m clear in 4min 28.04sec.

Having had to watch the European Championships on television, Holmes will now proceed to defend her Commonwealth 1500m title; Radcliffe now looks likely to be watching her on television. The switch in fortune was symbolised at the end of the race as Holmes helped the stricken Radcliffe to her feet.

"The main aim here was to get through in one piece," said Holmes, who displayed a jagged four-inch scar on the back of her right heel. "I am still lacking race fitness, but it meant so much for me just to get into my kit, step on the track and be a part of it all again."

All of Britain's seven individual European champions were present - either competitively or socially - to receive a generous welcome in what was Glasgow's first major outdoor meeting for 12 years. The competitive form of the evening, a match between Britain and the United States, ended in a 141-132 win for the hosts.

In the 110m hurdles, Colin Jackson beat the World and Olympic champion Allen Johnson for the first time this season, recording 13.40 to the American's 13.42.

Darren Campbell, third in the 100m behind Tim Harden, has a less pressing engagement tomorrow. The European champion is due to race at the Berlin Golden League meeting in an invitation relay alongside his coach, Linford Christie.

In the 110m hurdles, Colin Jackson beat the World and Olympic champion Allen Johnson for the first time this season, recording 13.40 to the American's 13.42.

Darren Campbell, third in the 100m behind Tim Harden, has a less pressing engagement tomorrow. The European champion is due to race at the Berlin Golden League meeting in an invitation relay alongside his coach, Linford Christie.In the 110m hurdles, Colin Jackson beat the World and Olympic champion Allen Johnson for the first time this season, recording 13.40 to the American's 13.42.

The spectators had something to celebrate early on thanks to Allison Curbishley. The 22-year-old, who anchored the British 400m relay team to a European bronze medal earlier this month, lowered her own Scottish 400m record to 50.73 sec as she held off a determined challenge from team- mate Katherine Merry. Curbishley also broke the 28-year-old Scottish All Comers' record of 51.02 sec.

Iwan Thomas defeated a 400m field that included the World record-holder, Butch Reynolds, winning in a time of 45.13 sec before declaring that the crowd were the best he had ever raced in front of in Britain.

The atmosphere also seemed to lift the three times European javelin champion, Steve Backley, who produced a final effort of 85.13m to move ahead of his British colleague, Mark Roberson.

Algeria's Olympic champion, Noureddine Morceli, reportedly considering retirement after a poor season, stormed to his second triumph in six days when he outpaced fellow Algerian Miloud Abaoub and Kenya's Frederick Cheruiyot to win the men's 1500 metres at the Rieti Grand Prix in 3min 33.58sec.

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