Athletics: Jackson on path to hurdles gold as Johnson pulls out

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The Independent Online
COLIN JACKSON, seeking to regain the title he won in a world record time six years ago, lines up today for a 110m hurdles final which will not include either the world's fastest man this year, Mark Crear, or the Olympic and world champion, Allen Johnson.

Thus, shortly before 7.30pm British time, the Welshman has the opportunity to become world champion again at the age of 32. "This is my best chance since '93 [when he won the gold]," said Jackson, who described the news that Johnson was out as "a huge boost", adding: "He's been a voodoo man for me over the years."

Jackson finished a close second last night to Anier Garcia of Cuba - 13.18 to 13.19sec - in a semi-final lacking Johnson, who strained a muscle in the warm-up. The American, who has taken over as the event's dominant force in recent years, had clearly not fully overcome the calf injury he suffered in Rome on 8 July and which had kept him out of competition until these championships.

After scraping through the previous night's quarter-final in the last of the four qualifying places, Johnson said: "I was probably the most nervous I've ever been in recent memory." Now, however, his period as world champion is no more than a memory as Jackson looks forward to the challenge of Garcia and Johnson's two fellow Americans, Tony Dees and Duane Ross, the latter of whom won the other semi-final with ease last night in 13.14sec.

Crear, who heads the 1999 world lists with 12.98sec, was already absent after the previous night's disqualification for two false starts. His claims that he had not been able to hear the gun properly - which were seconded by Johnson - were written off last night by Marion Jones, who moved closer to adding a 200m gold to the 100m gold and long jump bronze she has already collected by winning her quarter-final in 22.45.

"I didn't hear the gun very clearly in the 100m, but I think they're just offering that as an excuse," Jones said. "What do they want? Do they want an empty stadium, or a packed and loud stadium?"

Jones, who was beaten by Spain's naturalised Cuban Niurka Montalvo and Italy's Fiona May in an event which ended in tumultuous and controversial circumstances, confessed to feeling tired after being delayed at the stadium the previous night for a routine doping test. "I stumbled at the start today, but I'm not surprised after getting only five hours' sleep," she said.

By her own harsh reckoning Jones has already been a failure here, considering that she said beforehand she would regard anything less than four golds as being not enough. Even in the long sprint, which she describes as her favourite event, she has her work cut out.

After winning a 100m final in which five women went under 11sec for the first time in the event's history, Jones commented: "It's no walk in the park any more. Everybody is right there running fast."

In the men's 200m Julian Golding finished a couple of strides down on Maurice Greene as he qualified impressively for today's semi-finals. Greene, who beat Golding's friend and training partner Dwain Chambers into third place when retaining his 100m title on Sunday night, recorded 20.22sec, with Golding timed at 20.32. Marlon Devonish also came through, winning his heat in 20.51sec, but Doug Turner - chosen ahead of world junior 100m and 200m champion Christian Malcolm for the third individual place - finished a distant last in his quarter-final in 21.01.

Earlier in the day Britain's Dean Macey got his first World Championship decathlon challenge off to a bright start by setting a personal best of 10.68sec in the 100m and coming within three centimetres of his best with 7.48m in the long jump. After the third event of the morning, the shot, the 21-year-old Essex athlete - whose score of 8347 points in May was the best by any Briton other than Daley Thompson - lay in fifth place, although he did not manage to get through unscathed, coming away from his best long jump limping heavily and holding the top of his right leg.

May ready to quit,

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