Athletics: Jackson's delight after debacle

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IT WAS not Colin Jackson's intention to peak for the Lucozade Games at Sheffield, which were primarily an opportunity for the Great British Public to welcome back their Olympic successes, with special applause reserved for the gold medallists, Linford Christie and Sally Gunnell.

But after his debacle of a run in the Olympic 110 metres hurdles final, Jackson appeared to have put everything back together again last night as a smoothly efficient performance left all hurdles unaccosted and brought him a winning time of 13.07sec, just 0.01sec outside the European record he had set just before the Games.

In his wake were Tony Dees of the United States, the Olympic silver medallist, and fellow Briton Tony Jarrett, who missed the bronze in Barcelona by a breath and last night took second place in 13.19. A bittersweet achievement indeed for the Welshman.

The other outstanding performance at an event witnessed by a sell-out crowd of 25,000 and boasting 10 Olympic champions came from Kevin Young, of the United States, who took the 400m hurdles gold and Ed Moses' longstanding world record in Barcelona in what he described as his 'day in the sun'.

The sun shone for him in South Yorkshire yesterday - 'impeccable', he called it - and he responded with a run that brought him a British all-comers' record of 47.68. 'Having broken the 47-second barrier, running under 48 seconds regularly is becoming easier from a mental point of view,' Young said.

That sort of talk was academic for a cheerful but weary Kriss Akabusi, who had planned to be on holiday at this time and might have been better advised to stick to that plan. He finished third in 49.63.

Christie, the first of Britain's Olympic champions on show, had more than a triumphal progress to deal with as the runners either side of him - Michael Green of Jamaica and Jon Drummond of the United States, who won the World Student Games title here last year - moved ahead and remained there until the 70-metres point, forcing Christie to live up to his assertion that he has the best second half of a race of anyone apart from Carl Lewis. That assessment looked accurate 30 metres later.

Christie finished in 10.35. After completing his lap of honour, Christie returned to the track holding aloft the arm of his coach of 10 years, Ron Roddan, who bounced along happily in the unaccustomed limelight. It was a well-merited moment of attention for a shy man.

'Physically I'm in great shape, but mentally I'm very tired,' said Christie, who confirmed that he would not be running in Zurich on Wednesday. The other of the night's main domestic attractions, Gunnell, also found that victory was less than a formality as she was forced to work hard down the finishing straight to hold off her British team-mate in Barcelona, Gowry Retchakan.

Gunnell came through in 54.69sec, with Tonja Buford, of the United States, making a late run to take second place in 55.32.

In the men's 400 metres, the Olympic champion Quincy Watts, who makes even John Regis look like a destroyer rather than a battleship, dipped under 45 seconds as the night grew a little chilly, clocking 44.96. Regis again proved his potential at the distance by coming home as the leading Briton in 45.87sec, ahead of a tired-looking British record holder, David Grindley.

The 800 metres and Emsley Carr Mile gave two men who have had a rough time of it recently the opportunity to finish the domestic season with a defiant flourish. David Sharpe, who failed to qualify in the Olympic trials, ran away from the field over the shorter distance to win in 1min 46.06sec from a field which included Tom McKean, Curtis Robb and the Olympic champion, William Tanui of Kenya.

In the mile, Steve Crabb, who described his first-round 1,500m exit in Barcelona as the final nail in the coffin, revivified himself to outsprint Kevin McKay in the final 50 metres, winning in 3min 58.76sec.

Britain's youngest Olympian, 19- year-old Steve Smith, emphasised his big-meeting temperament by winning the high jump in 2.30m. Rob Denmark, best of the British 5,000m runners in Barcelona, won the two miles in 8min 26.05sec ahead of his domestic rivals, Jack Buckner and Ian Hamer. Sonia O'Sullivan, who just failed to become Ireland's first woman track medallist at an Olympics, set an all- comers' record of 4min 24.27sec in the mile. And Mike Powell, the American world record holder, won the long jump with his sixth- round leap of 8.29m.

(Photograph omitted)