Athletics: McColgan suffers a power cut

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The Independent Online
LIZ McCOLGAN fell 150 metres short of giving one of her best performances of the season in the 3,000m at the Nice Grand Prix last night, writes Mike Rowbottom. The world 10,000m record-holder, who has complained of feeling heavy-legged in recent weeks, dominated from the start, stretching her lead to 25 metres by 2,000m, only to run out of power going into the finishing straight.

The French thought they were in for a home win as Marie-Pierre Duros overtook her with 50 metres left, but the Romanian Margareta Kesveg ran wide into the third lane, to earn victory in 8min 39.94sec. McColgan was fourth in 8:42.25.

Kriss Akabusi finished third behind Samuel Matete and Winthrop Graham in the 400m hurdles just as he did in last year's World Championships. But this time round, Akabusi was an uncomfortably distant third; to be in contention for the title when his Olympics begin in earnest in just over two weeks' time, he needs to find another 10 metres from somewhere.

The field did not include the two leading American competitors, Kevin Young and Dave Patrick, who lead the world rankings this year, but the next four on the list were all present to give Akabusi his most testing race of the season so far. Racing in lane five, with Matete, the world champion, outside him, he stuttered at a couple of hurdles to leave himself with an impossible task by the time he came into the final straight.

Although Matete's winning time of 48.15sec was relatively slow compared to Young's 1992 best of 47.89, Akabusi must have hoped for better than 49.16, having run 48.30 and 48.26 within the space of three days last week.

Akabusi's training partner, Roger Black, restored a little morale after his beating by Michael Johnson in the Crystal Palace Grand Prix, winning against a moderate field in 45.15, 0.04sec faster than he had managed last Friday. Black looked less strained than he had in London over the final 50 metres, but he needs to make a similar leap forward to Akabusi if he is to challenge seriously for a medal.

Paul Bitok, of Kenya, ran 7:35.00 in winning the 3,000m, the fastest time of the year for the event. Britain's Rob Denmark was fourth in 7:39.72. In the women's 400m, Marie-Jose Perec, of France, won in 49.51, also the fastest time in the world this year.

Results, Sport in Short, page 37