Athletics: Jayasinghe seeks third win indoors

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The Independent Online
A SURPRISE late entry to tomorrow's Bupa Indoor Grand Prix meeting in Birmingham was announced yesterday. Not Steve Smith, who has chosen to high jump in Germany because he did not feel he had been offered enough money by the organisers, but the women's world 200 metres silver medallist, Susanthika Jayasinghe.

The Sri Lankan, who will take part in the 60m event at the National Indoor Arena, is at the centre of an ongoing controversy following an adverse finding in a doping test. Jayasinghe was suspended by the Sri Lankan federation last April after a sample showed up traces of the banned steroid nandrolone, but was reinstated last autumn after claiming she had been victimised.

Her career now depends upon the findings of an International Amateur Athletic Federation arbitration panel which will rule on her case later this year. In the meantime, the Sri Lankan has made the most of her freedom to compete - she arrives in Birmingham seeking a hat-trick of victories over 60 metres having won at meetings in Stuttgart and Malmo.

"We have installed an extra lane to accommodate her," said Jon Ridgeon, spokesman for event organisers Fast Track, yesterday.

The information that the organisers have put themselves out in this way for Jayasinghe will hardly thrill Smith, who had hoped to make his competitive comeback after a serious neck injury at Birmingham. The 25-year-old Olympic bronze medallist, whose manager, Vicente Modahl, is still embroiled in seeking up to pounds 500,000 worth of damages from the domestic sport on behalf of his wife, Diane, is due to compete in Balingen tomorrow, having planned to make his comeback at Arnstadt last night.

Tomorrow's event in Birmingham involves three billed world record attempts as Haile Gebrselassie of Ethiopia, Daniel Komen of Kenya and Maria Mutola of Mozambique compete at 5,000m, 2,000m and 800m respectively.

Gebrselassie and Komen will take to the track within moments of each other, each seeking to break the other's record. Gebrselassie will be paced by compatriot Milion Wolde, the world junior 5,000m champion who won so impressively over country at Durham this year.

Between them, Komen and Gebrselassie have set 21 indoor and outdoor world records, so the odds are that one or the other mark will be eclipsed. Komen will be seeking to break the mark established on the same track by the Ethiopian last year.

Elsewhere, the AAA 60m champion, Jason Gardener, faces the former world indoor champion Bruny Surin of Canada, fresh from Wednesday's victory in Malmo over Linford Christie, who runs again in Dortmund today as he continues to enjoy an open-ended break from retirement.

Christie's protege Darren Campbell, the European 100m champion, will run in Dortmund and Birmingham, as will another member of the training group, Jamie Baulch, who will contest a 400m that was to have included the European 200m champion Dougie Walker, who is currently embroiled in a doping controversy.

Colin Jackson is another entrant to both the German and British event. His 60m hurdles time of 7.39sec in Munich last weekend was his fastest in five years, and he is seeking to improve in Birmingham as he pursues his goal of a first world indoor title.

In Smith's absence, 21-year-old Commonwealth silver medallist Ben Challenger will attempt to take the battle to Cuba's world high jump record holder Javier Sotomayor. And Ashia Hansen, the world indoor triple jump champion, faces a strong field in Birmingham including Sarka Kasparkova of the Czech Republic and Rodica Mateescu of Romania.