Athletics: Jackson enjoys McKoy reunion: Welshman beats friend and former training partner to claim eighth victory of season

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The Independent Online
PERHAPS Colin Jackson is finding that absence makes the heart grow hungrier. At last night's Grand Prix meeting here he beat his friend and erstwhile training partner, the Olympic champion Mark McKoy, in the 110 metres hurdles for the second time this season to lay down what could be an important marker for the World Championships in three weeks' time.

Jackson, who finished in 13.12sec after overtaking McKoy at the sixth of the 10 hurdles, has completed the bulk of his outdoor training on his own this year, the first time since 1989 that he and the Canadian have not worked together.

Many have seen that distance as a good thing for Jackson, believing that McKoy has gained more from their association. Jackson maintains that the distance has been due simply to circumstances. But it does not seem to be doing him any harm. He has now run, and won, at eight meetings this year.

There remains only one object for Jackson this season - the gold medal at the World Championships. After his disappointments at the last World Championships and Olympics, he has a nagging sense of dissatisfaction, despite the fact that he seems to have proved himself over and over again as the world's best high hurdler. 'I won't be one of the best hurdlers until I have won a major title,' he said. 'I have run so many fast times, God knows how many, under 13.2, but I need to prove myself in a final which has the Americans and Mark in there.'

Sally Gunnell, Britain's other winner on the night, could have done with more rivalry - friendly or otherwise - as she struggled to motivate herself in defeating a moderately strong 400m hurdles field in a time of 54.29sec which was, for her, relatively slow.

The fact that she was sick in her race was seen by her as confirmation that she was suffering from a cold. It was certainly not an indication that she had stretched herself to the limit.

'I did find it hard to get the adrenalin flowing,' she said. 'At the beginning of the season there was all the excitement of wondering whether I was ready for the first few races, and then finding that I was in brilliant shape. But it is hard to keep that going all the time. Sometimes it is difficult if you don't have anyone else there who will give you that 'Get up and go'.'

The athlete who might have done more to test the Olympic champion, Kim Batten - third in the world rankings behind Gunnell and Sandra-Farmer Patrick - was absent after suffering minor injuries in a car accident at home in Florida, though she is expected to run at Crystal Palace tomorrow.

In the women's 1500m, Sonia O'Sullivan of Ireland maintained her impressive progress towards Stuttgart with a brave victory from the front in 4min 04.36sec, holding off a late run from Lyubov Kremlyova of Russia and Maria Mutola of Mozambique. O'Sullivan has become a bolder runner since finishing fourth in the Olympic 3,000m final last year.

Alison Wyeth, the AAA 1500m champion, who will run the 3,000m in Stuttgart, finished fifth in 4:05.31, the fastest time by a Briton this season.

Tom Hanlon, left off the list when the selectors named their World Championships team because he had failed to compete in the AAA Championship, responded by running the fastest time by a Briton this year in the 3,000m steeplechase and will almost certainly be added to the squad after the Gateshead meeting on 30 July. He led to the last barrier but was outsprinted over the final 60 metres by Joseph Keter of Kenya, who won in 8:21.04, to Hanlon's 8:21.58.

Meanwhile, Andy Norman, promoter of tomorrow's grand prix meeting at Crystal Palace, is resigned to the fact that 10 athletes from the former Soviet Union, including the pole vault world champion and world record-holder Sergei Bubka, will not compete because they have been unable to obtain visas.

Results, Sporting Digest, page 35