Backley, the Commonwealth and European champion, had to pull out of last Saturday's field events international at Portsmouth to have further treatment for an injury to his throwing shoulder. 'To be honest, I couldn't say when I'm going to be back,' he said yesterday. 'But I've got to be realistic. I won't make it for the European Cup.'
He began to experience discomfort in training at the start of May. 'There was no point at which I knew I'd hurt it,' he said. The latest injury is not connected with the operation in December to his throwing shoulder. 'That was a success,' Backley said. 'I was back to 99 per cent fitness.'
It is a worrying state of affairs for Backley, who was hampered by injury in finishing third at Barcelona behind the gold medallist, Jan Zelezny. The memory of the last World Championships two years ago, when he failed even to reach the final, is one he has ambitions of expunging in Stuttgart this summer.
At least there is a replacement for Backley in Mick Hill, who won in last weekend's match against Italy and Hungary with three throws over 80 metres.
Britain's Olympic gold medallists, Linford Christie and Sally Gunnell, will be in action tonight at the Rome Grand Prix meeting. Christie runs over 200m against Michael Johnson, the world champion, and Olapade Adeniken, of Nigeria. Gunnell goes over 400m hurdles against Vera Ordina, of Russia.Reuse content