Athletics: Jaunty Jackson in record-breaking form: McKoy likely to miss the World Championships in Stuttgart and make life in the fast lane easier for a hard-charging Welshman

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COLIN JACKSON'S chances of winning the world 110 metres hurdles next month - already outstanding given his form so far this season - improved still further yesterday as he broke his European and Commonwealth record and then heard that his main rival, the Olympic champion Mark McKoy, was likely to miss the championships.

Running in the thin air of Sestriere, the Italian ski resort, Jackson won his race in 12.97sec, bettering the mark of 13.04sec which he set in Cologne last August and falling just 0.5sec outside the world record set four years ago by Roger Kingdom of the United States.

Had he broken Kingdom's record, the Welshman would have collected a Ferrari 348 sports car. But he will be happy to wait for the Mercedes on offer to winners in Stuttgart.

'I'm obviously very pleased with the performance and more than satisfied with the time,' Jackson said. While he celebrated, McKoy, last in 13.75sec, confirmed that he was likely to miss the World Championships because he would not be attending the Canadian trials this weekend.

'It looks like I'll be sitting them out,' McKoy, who now lives in Austria, said.

'I have a letter at home telling me that if I don't go to the trials then I won't be on the Canadian team. But I'm not going.

'Even if I catch a plane tomorrow then I won't get to Canada until just 24 hours before they want me to run. I've achieved what I wanted to in the sport and if they don't want me to compete in the World Championships that's their loss.'

McKoy, who has said he wants to run the 110m hurdles and the 100m in Stuttgart, felt the Canadian authorities had scheduled the trials too late for him to recover in time for the championships.

The news of his friend will sadden Jackson, deeply disappointed at his showing in the last World Championships and Olympic Games, who wants to be seen to beat the best the world can offer. Yesterday's time was not the fastest he has produced in the event - at the 1989 World Cup final in Barcelona he finished in 12.95sec, behind Kingdom's 12.87, but both times were disallowed because of an illegal following wind.

This latest record is legal, even if it does go into the books with a capital A to indicate it was set at altitude. It came despite a headwind of 1.6m per second, but Jackson ruled out any hasty balancing calculations that may have been made. 'You can't say that if the wind had not been against then I would have beaten the world record. It doesn't work like that.'

World record or not, it is a tremendously well-timed lift for Jackson's already buoyant confidence. Shortly before he won in Nice last Wednesday week, he talked about a training session he had with his coach, Malcolm Arnold.

'Malcolm asked me if I felt ready to go under 13 seconds,' he recalled. 'It was the first time he had ever, ever said anything like that about times. I said 'why?' and he said 'because I think you're ready'.' Arnold was right. For Jackson, Stuttgart cannot come quickly enough.