Athletics: Lewis and Backley back on gold trail

Hopes of British success in Seville rise after leading prospects recapture their form at AAA Championships

BRITAIN'S PROSPECTS of World Championship success in Seville next month brightened distinctly after yesterday's CGU World Trials and AAA Championships, where two of the country's best prospects produced long awaited evidence of their true worth.

In the men's javelin, Steve Backley won with a throw of 87.59 meters, his best of the season and seventh furthest in the world this year. And Denise Lewis, like Backley, a European champion from last summer, indicated that she is back in earnest pursuit of a world heptathlon title after competing in four events over this weekend.

"I think I will be going to Seville with a realistic change of winning gold," said Lewis, who has spent two months recovering from an injury to her calf. "I would not step out on the track otherwise. I'm just behind where I would ideally like to be right now, but the injury has cleared and there's no doubt about Seville. I've had a very satisfactory and successful weekend."

Yesterday Lewis came second in the long jump to the Commonwealth champion, Jo Wise, recording 6.50 meters, just nine centimetres adrift of the distance she produced when winning the European gold in Budapest last year. She then produced the same 100m hurdles time as she had in the Hungarian capital, finishing sixth in a race won by Keri Maddox in 12.97sec.

On Saturday, Lewis had finished fourth in the shot-putt with 15.10m and sixth in the javelin, off a shortened run-up, with 46.30m.

Backley, whose throwing has been awry all season, had promised to produce a big early throw here and appeared to have done so as he launched the spear out toward the 90m mark. But he fouled on that throw and had to wait until his fifth attempt to achieve his breakthrough. He will travel to Seville without his old friend and training partner, Mick Hill, who could only manage fourth place, four centimetres behind Mark Roberson's 80.23 as Nick Nieland rose to the challenge for a second place of 81.83.

"It's my first win this year," Backley said. "I haven't been worried at all by anything or thought that I had done something wrong in my preparation. I've known a big throw is there all along. Hopefully in Seville the big throws will be something to look forward to - frankly that's the only time that really matters."

Katharine Merry became the third fastest ever Britain in winning the 400m in 50.62. But only after she had won an argument with her coach, Linford Christie. The former World and Olympic 100m champion had wanted her to run her more recognised distance, the 200m, but Merry was desperate to maintain her hugely promising form over a distance she had raced only six times previously.

"Linford thought that if I ran a good 200 here it would help my 400m," she said. "But I thought the opposite - if I ran a good 400, then my 200s would benefit. In the end, Linford agreed to let me run the 400, and the main thing I wanted here was to do something good for him to show him I was serious about the event."

She managed that in style, finishing 15m clear of her nearest challenger for a time that only two other British runners have bettered - Phylis Smith, who ran 50.40sec in 1992, and Kathy Cook, whose 49.43sec of 1984 still stands as the British record.

Merry recalled meeting Cook a few years ago during a photo shoot to publicise the AAA Championships. "She ran 11.1 for the 100, 22.1 for 200 and 49.43 for the 400," Merry said. "I should remember those times because those are the kind of targets I am aiming at."

But if the meeting was inspirational, the advice thatMerry sought from her new-found guide was not exactly what she wanted. "When I asked her about how she had trained she just said `I hated it all, Katharine' and I thought `Oh right. Thanks for that!' We are very different kettles of fish."

But they have at least one thing in common - both have won the 100, 200 and 400m titles at AAA Championships.

For the first half of her post-race press conference, Merry - who set world age bests for the 100m as a 14-year-old - was still breathing heavily. But she insisted that the only problem she had was in her head, where a build-up of lactic acid was giving her sharp pain and impaired vision.

Her vision of where she wants to go from here, however, is clear. "I want to do the 400 in Seville," she said. "And I want to do the 400 next year at the Olympics and make a major impression."

First, however, she has to check with coach Christie. "I saw him briefly after the race, and he was smiling, so I think he'll agree," she said with a grin.

Kelly Holmes continued her strong progress towards Seville - where she is inclined to run the 1500m - with a runaway victory over 800m in 1min 59.86sec.

In the men's 800m Curtis Robb - who like Holmes has suffered grievously with injury in recent years - secured a world championship place by finishing third in a race won by Mark Sesay in his first competition of any significance since the 1996 Olympics.

Julian Golding, Britain's Commonwealth 200m champion, also indicated he is right back in form with a smooth victory in 20.20 sec ahead of Marlon Devonish.

Following Mark Richardson's withdrawal from the 400m final, in order to safeguard a niggling injury in his right hamstring, Jamie Baulch, the world indoor champion, won the title in 45.36, with Solomon Wariso clinching a trip to Seville with second place in 45.52.

Results, Digest, page 9

The cartoon produced by Bruce MacKinnon for the Halifax Chronicle-Herald on Thursday, showing the bronze soldiers of the war memorial in Ottawa welcoming Corporal Cirillo into their midst
Funds raised from the sale of poppies help the members of the armed forces with financial difficulties
voicesLindsey German: The best way of protecting soldiers is to stop sending them into disastrous conflicts
Nigel Farage has backed DJ Mike Read's new Ukip song
voicesNigel Farage: Where is the Left’s outrage over the sexual abuse of girls in the North of England?
One bedroom terraced house for sale, Richmond Avenue, Islington, London N1. On with Winkworths for £275,000.
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
The Edge and his wife, Morleigh Steinberg, at the Academy Awards in 2014
peopleGuitarist faces protests over plan to build mansions in Malibu
peopleFox presenter gives her less than favourable view of women in politics
Mario Balotelli has been accused of 'threateningly' telling a woman to stop photographing his Ferrari
peoplePolice investigate claim Balotelli acted 'threateningly' towards a woman photographing his Ferrari
Arts and Entertainment
Paul Anderson plays Arthur Shelby in Peaky Blinders series two
tvReview: Arthur Shelby Jr seems to be losing his mind as his younger brother lets him run riot in London
Life and Style
The Zinger Double Down King, which is a bun-less burger released in Korea
food + drinkKFC unveils breadless meat beast
Arts and Entertainment
A shared vision: Cerys Matthews has been familiarising herself with Dylan Thomas’s material, for a revealing radio programme
arts + entsA singer, her uncle and a special relationship with Dylan Thomas
In other news ... Jon Snow performed at last year's Newsroom's Got Talent charity event
Life and Style
Text messaging changes as a relationship evolves
The comedian, 42, made the controversial comment following the athlete’s sentencing to five years for the culpable homicide of Reeva Steenkamp on Tuesday
peopleComedian's quip about Reeva Steenkamp was less than well received at music magazine awards
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SSRS Report Developer - Urgent Contract - London - £300pd

£300 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: SSRS Report Developer – 3 Mon...

KS1 Teacher

£95 - £150 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Key Stage 1 teacher require...

HR Business Partner - Essex - £39,000 plus benefits

£32000 - £39000 per annum + benefits + bonus: Ashdown Group: Generalist HR Man...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £30000 per annum + uncapped: SThree: Do you feel like your sales role...

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Patrick Grafton-Green wonders if they can ever recapture the old magic
Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years
The 10 best smartphone accessories

Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was this shirt swapping the real reason?

Liverpool v Real Madrid

Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time. Was shirt swapping the real reason?