Athletics: McColgan given recovery time: Waiting game for McPherson as Lough and Winrow earn places

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The Independent Online
LIZ McCOLGAN has been offered the chance to compete for Britain in the European Cup in Birmingham on 25-26 June, despite the fact that she is currently only able to train in a swimming pool because of injury.

However, the selectors have called Matthew Yates' bluff after his recent comments that he did not want to run the 1500 metres by selecting the relatively unknown Gary Lough, a 23-year-old who finished third in the trial and also earned a Commonwealth Games place this week.

Craig Winrow, the 1989 European junior champion who won the 800m title at the weekend, has been preferred to Tom McKean, four times a European Cup winner. The Scot is recovering from a strained calf and did not intend to run until the weekend of the cup - he may test his fitness at the Scottish Championships on the same day.

McColgan is treading water in more than one sense. Other than one low-key 10km road event in April, the 30-year-old former world 10,000m champion has not raced in more than a year. Having made an apparent recovery from knee operations either side of Christmas - in defiance of medical experts who predicted her career was over - she recently picked up a toe injury.

'Liz will not run on the track until a week before the cup,' said Malcolm Arnold, who has taken over the running of the national teams following the resignation of the national coach, Frank Dick. 'If she is not fit, she will not consider running. She was offered a place on 31 May by the chairman of selectors. Subsequent to that, the toe injury unfortunately occurred.'

An unfit McColgan caused a degree of chaos when she pulled out of last year's European Cup 10,000m at short notice. This time around, the selectors have instructed Vikki McPherson, the winner of the national title, to train as if she will be competing in Birmingham. It looks as if McPherson will not be wasting her time, because McColgan will not compete unless she can get a qualifying time.

Lough gains his chance because Kevin McKay and David Strang, winner and runner-up in Sunday's national 1500m final in Sheffield, are unavailable. McKay - who like most people had assumed Yates would run - had arranged, with the British Athletic Federation's assistance, an altitude training trip at Font Romeu in the Pyrenees. Strang, at the insistence of his coach, had to return to the United States. The selectors were not willing to leave the situation with Yates, in Arnold's phrase, 'hanging in the wind'.

John Mayock, who might have run the metric mile, has instead been asked to run the 5,000m, where Rob Denmark has chosen not to defend the title he won in Rome last June. John Regis and Tony Jarrett, who were not named by the Commonwealth selectors on Monday following their withdrawal from the national championships, are given the places at 200m and 110m hurdles respectively.