Athletics: Jackson's power of positive thinking

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The Independent Online
IT WAS only a year ago that Colin Jackson was giving serious thought to finishing with athletics, writes Mike Rowbottom from Paris. Things could hardly be more different now.

Defeat in the world indoor championships followed a calamitous seventh place at the 1992 Olympics and traumatic withdrawal mid-way through the 1991 world championships. Jackson, it was said, could not stand the heat.

The Welshman took two weeks out to consider his future, talking to his closest friends and family. 'They got it all,' he said.

He carried on. And now he is at ease with himself - world champion and record-holder at 110m hurdles, world record- holder at 60m hurdles, and, thanks to his latest efforts here, European indoor champion at 60m and 60m hurdles.

'When things are going wrong they all go wrong,' he said. 'You feel flat. You go training and it's raining. But it's character-building. You must never look behind, you must look forward. I am an example of how you can go from rock bottom to great success.'

Rock bottom is a harsh description of Jackson's position a year ago - he was, after all, Commonwealth and European champion and a previous Olympic silver medallist. But everything has been consolidated now.

The versatility which Jackson has evidenced in winning the 60m in 6.49sec - the fifth fastest time ever - raises the question of how he might do over 100m. The four men ahead of him - Andre Cason, Leroy Burrell, Bruny Surin and Linford Christie - have all beaten 10 seconds.

But Jackson is not keen. 'In my heart of hearts I'm a hurdler,' he said. 'I don't fancy embarrassing myself on the flat.' As Jackson's coach, Malcolm Arnold, pointed out, the best part of Christie's races comes after 60 metres.

Jackson will take a break after six races in 40 hours. He will film two commercials before departing for Florida. With a hectic summer looming, Jackson is going to have to work harder than ever at pacing himself.