ATHLETICS; Jackson puts case for his Paris `snub'

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The Independent Online
DALTON GRANT, one of the most unpredictable performers in British athletics over the past decade, will be called upon to exhibit his more upbeat qualities the weekend after next as non-playing captain of a team seeking a European Cup hat-trick.

Grant's exuberance will help buoy British spirits in the wake of Colin Jackson's announcement that he will miss the event in Paris in order to attend the wedding of his friend Christian Mayer, the Austrian World Cup skier. Jackson, who began his season in outstanding fashion on Sunday with a victory in Stuttgart in 13.14sec, defended his decision yesterday. "They are telling me I'm costing Britain the European Cup - am I a one- man team?" he said. "At most, my absence will cost a point."

His place is likely to go today to Tony Jarrett, who won the Commonwealth title in Jackson's absence last year.

Jackson was heavily criticised last September for choosing to race in Japan rather than representing Wales at the Commonwealth Games is Kuala Lumpur. But he was adamant that his position was defensible. "I can't always put athletics before other people in my life," he said. "Now I'm in the twilight of my career I can put other things first."

It is an interesting explanation from a man whose European and world indoor victories have sent him onwards with renewed vigour towards world outdoor and Olympic challenges.

The previous two European Cups turned out to be a last hurrah for the British captains, Linford Christie and Roger Black. Grant, who won the world indoor high jump title in Paris five years ago and added the Commonwealth title last September, has no plans to retire. But injury prevents him competing in Paris and he takes over the captaincy from fellow high jumper Steve Smith, whose own injuries saw him play a non-competitive role at last year's European Championships.

With Jarrett looking a highly capable replacement for Jackson, Britain's chances of a third successive win after their triumphs in Munich and St Petersburg are healthy. Apart from Smith, the Olympic high jump bronze medallist, their team includes the triple jump world record holder Jonathan Edwards and European javelin champion Steve Backley.

European 400m champion Iwan Thomas is replaced by Mark Richardson, while world junior record-holder Dwain Chambers will run the 100m rather than the Budapest gold medallist, Darren Campbell.

GB team, Digest, page 29