Athletics: Jackson makes light of a cold comeback: World record holder hurdles to win

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GATESHEAD on a cold and windy Friday evening is not the kind of place you want to make a comeback from a hamstring injury, but at the BUPA Games here last night Colin Jackson successfully negotiated his first 110m hurdles race since he was forced to put his season on hold six weeks ago.

Times in all the sprints were rendered meaningless by the conditions and Jackson must have feared hearing the sound of his muscles snapping again. However, from the moment he reacted to the gun faster than anyone else, which included the first three in the US championships, it was obvious all the recent problems were behind the world champion and record holder. The time of 13.51secwill hardly register on his personal all- time list, but a relieved Jackson said: 'It's the first time I've been able to push out hard all year.'

As the Welshman scratched his name off the sick list, Steve Backley added his name to it. The injury-plagued Backley, who has not enjoyed a full season since 1990, withdrew from the javelin after one throw, because of a groin complaint which threatens to keep him out for at least two weeks.

It was not a good night for Backley as Jan Zelezny, of the Czech Republic, once more punctured his and Mick Hill's European Championship ambitions by throwing his spear 91.68m. This not only consolidated his position at the top of the world rankings but removed Backley's name from the stadium record books.

Linford Christie preserved his season's unbeaten record in the 100m, even though the clock could not separate him from Frankie Fredericks, of Namibia. He stuck out his barrel chest on the line to beat Fredericks and the Americans Slip Watkins and Jon Drummond. Only 200ths of a second separated the first four, with Christie and Fredericks sharing the time of 10.46. 'The wind was so strong down the home straights it got to the stage where you tried to pick your legs up and nothing happened,' Christie said.

The other third of British athletics' holy trinity, Sally Gunnell, also had her problems in the 400m hurdles. For the third successive race, she stuttered approaching the eighth barrier but recovered magnificently to overhaul Russia's Anna Knoroz and win in 54.69. But Roger Black suffered his first defeat in the 400m since recovering from a viral infection when Antonio Pettigrew, the American who beat him to the world title in 1991, proved to have more strength in the last 50 metres.