Athletics: Jackson in peace pact with BAF

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The Independent Online
Colin Jackson and the British Athletic Federation have averted their collision course and reached an agreement which leaves the way clear for the Welshman to defend his 110 metres hurdles title at the World Championships in Gothenburg next month.

Jackson, who met the Federation's chief executive, Peter Radford, in Birmingham yesterday, has reconsidered his decision not to compete between now and the Championships.

He will now comply with the selectors' demand that he show fitness by Sunday in order to claim the provisional place he was given when the main bulk of the team was announced after last weekend's national trials.

Jackson's decision to run in Padua last Sunday less than 24 hours after pulling out of those trials with a muscle injury infuriated Radford. But in his statement yesterday, the chief executive indicated that the matter had been smoothed over:

"Colin explained that he was not 100 per cent fit when he competed in Padua and following the race decided that it would be wiser not to compete again before the World Championships. That situation has now changed and he has stated that he intends to compete within the seven-day period stipulated by the selectors."

The likelihood is that Jackson will stick to his agreement to run at the Bupa International in Sheffield on Sunday, where many of the other 12 provisionally selected British athletes, including Roger Black and Steve Backley, are due to compete.

Jonathan Edwards, who added a centimetre to the world triple jump record of 17.97 metres in Salamanca on Tuesday, is also competing in Sheffield despite jarring the ankle which he injured at the start of this month during the Crystal Palace grand prix with his final effort of the night.

After arriving at Newcastle Airport yesterday and being greeted by his wife Alison and sons, two-year-old Samuel and nine-week-old Nathan, Edwards spoke confidently about his injury - "It is not a serious problem, just something I will be nursing" - and about the forthcoming Championships.

"I am physically capable of jumping over 18 metres in Gothenburg," he said. "It has to be possible in the right conditions."

The first British man this century to set a world record for any of the jumps did not get to bed until 2.30am after his historic performance - and was up again three hours later to catch a plane.

"There was an overwhelming response," he said. "The mayor wanted to have a special celebration for me today."

It is all heady stuff for a man who entered this season merely seeking to "re-establish" himself after suffering from the debilitating Epstein- Barr virus last year.

Jackson was not the only individual to incur Radford's wrath this week - he publicly criticised the decision by the Federation's selectors not to leave Jackson out of the team.

But Tony Ward, the Federation spokesman, denied yesterday that the chairman of selectors, David Cropper, was being officially asked to resign.

Cropper received a faxed message from the BAF treasurer, John Lister, calling on him to step down. But Ward said that the message was "a personal opinion" which had been leaked.

Both Lister and Radford were unhappy that Jackson was named in the team, albeit provisionally. "It looked as if the sport as a whole was not going to take any action over the matter," Ward said.

He added that although all 13 of the athletes requested to demonstrate fitness had written to Cropper excusing themselves from the trials, "not many" had provided medical corroboration, and many of the letters had only arrived on the first day of competition itself.

That gave Cropper no chance to provide the written permission which is officially required from him as chairman of the track and field commission before athletes can miss the trials.

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