Athletics: Joyce has the finish

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The Independent Online
DANNY JOYCE showed that there is life after Linford Christie for British sprinting when he won the 100 metres gold medal at the European Junior Championships here last night.

Joyce's victory in 10.63sec was achieved by the thickness of a vest over the German Rafael Gruczecki, whose wild celebrations at the end did not fool the officials. Britain's Ejike Wodu finished third in 10.77.

It was a good day all-round for Britain's sprinters. Katharine Merry finished second by two-hundredths of a second in the women's 100m to Hana Bensova, of the Czech Republic, after running 11.58. However, Merry's main aim at these Championships is the 200m and this performance will have served to increase her confidence.

Last week Christie criticised Britain's young sprinters, accusing them of being interested only in chasing money and doubting whether there was a successor behind him. The 1991 European junior champion, Darren Campbell, had been picked out by Christie as his heir apparent but has disappointed since.

Joyce was a late addition to the team after achieving the qualifying standard at the last minute. Max Jones, Britain's chief coach, described him as 'a bit of a mystery. He has come from nowhere this season'. Joyce, who was born in the Seychelles, moved to Britain when he was four and lives in Bedford, has improved from 10.73 to 10.47 this summer.

The manner in which he won yesterday drew comparisons with Christie. Sluggish out of his blocks, he drew level at half-way and proved to be the strongest finisher.

There should be further successes this afternoon in the 400m with Nicholas Budding and Guy Bullock both looking impressive in qualifying. At 17, Bullock is the youngest member of Britain's team. But his training partner, the UK record holder David Grindley, has tipped him for great things, believing he is capable of breaking Roger Black's UK junior record of 45.36.

'There are lots of people with talent but they don't always have the bottle,' Grindley said. 'That is not a problem with Guy.'