Athletics: Jackson in a world of his own

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The Independent Online
A WORLD indoor record in the 60 metres hurdles for Colin Jackson, the world outdoor champion at 110m, temporarily took the mind of British athletics off its troubles at the Kelvin Hall here yesterday.

Jackson's time of 7.35sec carried him a 100th of a second inside Greg Foster's seven-year-old mark, which is generally accepted to have been set with the benefit of a rolling start. The hefty knock which Jackson gave the third flight on the way to victory in the McDonald's International match between Britain and the United States suggested that there may be another 100th or two still to come. His supremacy was such that the second-placed Tony Jarrett was almost a quarter of a second adrift.

An hour later Jackson was back on the track, pushing his friend Linford Christie to a time of 6.53sec in the 60m dash as the pair repeated the one- two finish seen in the same hall in a match against Russia a fortnight ago. Jackson maintained that he still had small problems to iron out in his hurdling technique, while Christie laid strong emphasis on the help they have been giving each other in training. 'When he runs well, I run well,' Christie said, 'and vice versa.'

The men won their match by 79 points to 59, while Sally Gunnell, racing for the first time this season, made a majestic contribution to the women's 68-59 victory with a virtually unopposed win in the flat 400m. Just back from training in Tallahassee, she called it 'a nice comfortable race'.

There was also an auspicious appearance by a British sprinter of the next generation when Katharine Merry, the 20-year-old Birchfield Harrier, edged out the American hope Holli Hyche by one 100th of a second in an exciting women's 200m race. Her time of 23.0sec gave Merry a British record, but even more impressive was the persistence with which she chased and caught Hyche, a bespectacled 22-year-old with a smooth forward-leaning style who had won the 60m.

The 4,500 capacity crowd watched Steve Smith of Britain beat Steve Smith of the US into second place in the high jump, and saw the power of John Regis prevail over his team-mate Solomon Wariso in the 200m. But Tom McKean fell in the 800m while trying to get back on terms with the other British runner, Gary Brown.

As far as the crowd was concerned, an under-strength US team were there to do little more than provide a backdrop to the appearances of the medal winners from Barcelona and Stuttgart. The biggest name among the visitors, the 1991 400m world champion Antonio Pettigrew, won his event in the second fastest time in the world this year.

But for some of us who enjoyed even a passing acquaintance with the late Cliff Temple, the athletics writer, who committed suicide last month, attendance at a meeting involving the British team is at best an equivocal experience. So it was yesterday, when Britain's representatives included several athletes made rich and famous by the activities of the controversial Andy Norman. And so it will remain until Peter Radford, the chairman of the British Athletics Federation, and his independent legal adviser, David Pannick QC, complete their internal disciplinary inquiry into the alleged misdeeds of Norman, the BAF's promotions director, accused of uttering malicious allegations against Temple.

Yesterday's unofficial view was that the proceedings may be concluded within a couple of weeks. 'It'll take as long as it takes,' Tony Ward, the BAF's press officer, said. 'We have to make sure that justice is done, and is seen to be done. For everybody's sake - for Andy's, for the sport's - we want it to be as swift as possible, but also as fair as possible.' Norman, currently suspended from his duties, was not in the hall yesterday.