Athletics: Jackson starts world title quest

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The Independent Online
COLIN JACKSON'S commitment to assuaging the disappointment of last year's Olympics with a world title comes under domestic scrutiny for the first time as he starts his British season in Birmingham today, writes Mike Rowbottom.

Jackson, who has broken off from training in Australia with Linford Christie in order to prepare for next month's world indoor championships, recently ran 13.41sec for the 110m hurdles in Canberra. His opposition in the 60m hurdles within the Great Britain v United States match will come from Arthur Blake, one of the few men to beat him last year, and his British rival, Tony Jarrett.

'I'm just off the plane so the main thing I'll be looking forward to is blowing off the cobwebs and get a win,' Jackson said yesterday. 'I will make my real onslaught at the TSB International next week where I hope to lay some ghosts from the Olympics.'

His rivals there may include the Olympic champion, Mark McKoy, who was out training in Australia and has also returned to Europe this week. The United States team has only a smattering of recognised names but the Vauxhall International nevertheless promises to provide some intriguing, early season encounters between home athletes.

Nowhere more so than in the 200 metres, where the rising talent of Darren Campbell, world junior silver medallist at 100 and 200 metres, will be tested by the experience of his team-mates, John Regis and Marcus Adam.

Regis and Adam have just returned from an extended training break in California with the US coach, John Smith, in company with the Olympic 400m champion, Quincy Watts, and the Olympic 400m hurdles champion, Kevin Young. In the 60 metres, Campbell's colleague in last year's world junior title-winning squad, Jason Fergus, matches himself against an American at the other end of his athletics career, the former world record holder Calvin Smith.

Britain have realistic hopes of a 1-2-3 in the high jump, where their new record holder, Steve Smith, meets the old record holder, Dalton Grant, for the first time since he became world junior champion last September. Brendan Reilly, Smith's 20-year- old rival, should find himself in the kind of competition to inspire him towards his best of 2.31 metres.

Meanwhile, Sally Gunnell, Britain's Olympic 400m champion, makes her season's domestic debut over 400m, having finished third at that distance in Gent three days ago in what was her first competitive appearance of the year.