Athletics: Hylton and Baulch shine through

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The Independent Online
Given the week British athletics has just had, it might seem odd to say that there is a new spirit of togetherness within the sport. But there is. At least, as far as the athletes are concerned.

In concluding here yesterday, the AAA Indoor Championships offered up two outstanding young runners who are benefiting from new training regimes which link them up with the best of their peers. Mark Hylton, who claimed his third AAA's 400 metres title at the age of 20 with a personal best of 46.24sec, has been working for the last three months with fellow Olympic relay silver medalist Roger Black and Mark Richardson, and leading 400m hurdler Jon Ridgeon.

Jamie Baulch, the 23-year-old Welshman who will be one of Hylton's 400m rivals this summer, took the 200m title in a personal best of 20.84 after winter training in Australia with the creme de la creme of British sprinting talent.

Baulch's coach is Colin Jackson, who won the 60m hurdles title here with expected ease on Saturday and who was one of the many champions pooling their talents in Sydney before Christmas.

The others included Ian Mackie, Darren Campbell, John Regis, Tony Jarrett and the man whom Baulch refers to as "the Big Daddy coach" - Linford Christie - who has overseen the whole exercise.

Christie was concerned with his own performance on Saturday, running a low-key 60m at Stange, in Norway, and winning in 6.66. The former Olympic champion, who announced his retirement from international racing last season, is clearly still interested in certain competitions this season. But that is likely to be as far as indoor running goes; this Sunday the plan is for Christie to return to Australia for two months further training, accompanied by Campbell.

Jason Livingston, whom Christie appeared briefly to be grooming for some kind of succession five years ago, took another firm stride following his return last summer from a four-year drug ban. Livingston, now 25, took his first senior British title over 60m in 6.58 on Saturday, the second fastest time in the world this season. At this rate he looks highly likely to qualify for the world indoor championships in Paris just over a month and a half from now.

Baulch and Hylton also plan to be there, and both appear to have medal chances. "I couldn't ask for better training partners," Hylton said. "We have realised that if we want to match the Americans we have to work together."

Baulch, too, was full of optimism. "I am training with athletes who have all been there, done it and got the T-shirt," he said. "Now I'm coming into my own.

"My time today beat my personal best for outdoors, so to do it indoors is really good. Colin and the others have been telling me how important it is as a 400 metres runner to be quick over 200. That extra speed is something I have got over some of these other guys."

Elsewhere Judy Oakes, at the age of 38, secured her 38th national title with a shot putt of 17.71m. "I think I'm carrying on beause I'm crazy," she said with a grin. "They are saying now I'll be going across the circle on a zimmer-frame," she added. "I'm wondering if it's actually legal..."

The shot-putter Paul Edwards, banned for four years for taking drugs, has had his case referred by the International Amateur Athletic Federation to their doping commission. The 37-year-old former UK champion is arguing that two positive tests in 1994 were flawed.