Athletics: Jackson ready to strengthen Britain's chances

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The Independent Online
COLIN JACKSON, due to fly back here this morning after his quick trip home yesterday, has a competition to return for. Britain's team in the sprint relay - for which the new world 110 metres champion has declared himself available - assured themselves of a place in today's final, writes Mike Rowbottom from Stuttgart.

The Welshman left Germany shortly after winning his title in a world record time of 12.91sec on Friday night; he was due to act as best man for a friend in Worcester.

However, he and the rest of the British quartet have a formidable task ahead of them. The United States, with Leroy Burrell running the last leg following the withdrawal of his Santa Monica team-mate Carl Lewis, equalled the world record of 37.40sec their team had set at the last Olympics.

Britain - in the form of Jason John, Tony Jarrett, Darren Braithwaite and Linford Christie, finished third in the same semi-final in a time of 38.05sec. Jackson will probably give them a faster start in John's place (not that John is happy about dropping out in the circumstances); John Regis, if he is clear of the muscle strain he suffered shortly before winning the 200m silver, should prove quicker than Braithwaite.

Phylis Smith, another late arrival from Britain having recovered from the hamstring strain which prevented her running in the individual 400m, helped Britain's women into the 400m relay final.

Anchored by the 400m hurdles world record holder, Sally Gunnell, they finished second in 3min 27.04sec, behind the United States in 3:24.08. 'I'm sure we can get a medal,' Gunnell said.

There is no chance of that for the sadly depleted men's 400m relay team. They were knocked out after finishing fourth in their heat - a far cry from the British victory at the last world championships. All four of the butt- kickers from Tokyo - Roger Black, Derek Redmond, Kriss Akabusi and John Regis - were absent through illness, injury, retirement and fatigue respectively.

Werner Gunthor, world shot put champion in 1987 and 1991, raised the Swiss flag again with an effort of 21.97m; Moses Kiptanui and Patrick Sang of Kenya finished first and second respectively in the 3,000m steeplechase final, just as they did two years ago in Tokyo.

Kiptanui's winning time was 8min 06.36sec, a championship record. Britain's Tom Hanlon, who has missed much of the season through injury, was last in 8:45.62.

Ana Biryukova, of Russia, became the first woman triple jumper over 15 metres as she won in a world record of 15.09m. Her Russian team-mate, Yolanda Chen, who held the previous record of 14.97m, took silver.

Steve Smith, the world No 1 high jumper last season, had further treatment on a back injury yesterday as he prepared for today's final.

The 20-year-old from Liverpool, who required traction and two days' bed rest after injuring his back in training on Monday, qualified for the final with a jump of 2.28m on Friday night after having a pain-killing injection.

Liliya Nurutdinova, of Russia, seventh in the women's 800m final after a fall, faces a four-year suspension after a positive test for steroids, as does Romas Ubartas of Romania, fourth in the men's discus.

Nurutdinova, who won the 1991 world 800m title and took the silver in last summer's Olympics, tested positive for the steroid stanozolol. She was one of three runners who fell 200 metres from the end of the final, won by Maria Mutola.