Athletics: Morceli just misses record

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The Independent Online
NOUREDDINE MORCELI, the Algerian world 1500 metres champion, finished less than a second outside the world mile record at the National Indoor Arena here yesterday, before complaining - albeit mildly - that the pacemaking had been insufficient.

After recording 3min 50.70sec, the third-fastest time ever run indoors and just 0.92sec outside the 10-year-old world record held by Eamonn Coghlan of Ireland, he maintained quietly that Ikem Billy had not done the required job. 'I expected him to go to 1,000 metres but he just did to 600 metres and it wasn't enough.'

Going through 800m in 1:52 rather than the planned time of 1:54 left him with too much to do on his own and insufficient energy for a final push, despite the exhortation of a crowd which saw him break the world 1,000m mark on the same track a year ago.

Afterwards he remarked wistfully that things might have been very different if he had had someone with him over the last 100m, but given that the field included the Olympic 1500m bronze medalist, Mohammed Suleiman, and two Britons in good early-season form - Matthew Yates beat John Mayock to second place in 3:55.78 - the question is: who?

Colin Jackson maintained his position as the best high-hurdler in the world as he beat all three Olympic medallists with ease.

His time of 7.44sec was the fastest over 60m hurdles this year - information that he had run 7.42 in Germany last week proved to be an exaggeration by 0.09sec - and he predicted calmly afterwards that he could take a tenth of a second off that time, which would be a world record by 0.02sec.

Jackson's form is the more impressive given that he is not running in his normal fluent fashion because he has a niggling strain in his leg which developed on his recent flight back from an Australian training break.

He will attempt to smooth out a few of the kinks at next week's indoor AAAs meeting, where he will take on his training partner from Down Under, Linford Christie, over 60m. Britain's Olympic 100m champion is still undecided about running next month's world indoor championships, to which Jackson is committed, but Jackson believes he could be persuaded to compete.

Michael Johnson, leaning so far back it seemed he must fall over, set a British allcomers' record of 45.14sec in winning a 400m in which Britain's 20-year-old rivals, David Grindley and Mark Richardson, ran each other ragged in the American's slipstream, with Grindley staggering over the line second in 45.89.

In the men's high jump, Steve Smith's intention of jumping 2.40m was rendered unrealistic by the combination of a troublesome hamstring and a sense of weariness in what was his last event before a two-week training break. He will decide next weekend whether to compete in the world indoors. Smith finished ahead of his fellow Briton Dalton Grant on a countback after both cleared 2.29m, with the world indoor champion, Hollis Conway of the United States, winning in 2.33.

Indoor promise has given way to outdoor misery for Yvonne Murray on more than one occasion. Whether the Stuttgart world championships will turn out well for her remains to be seen, but she is clearly getting herself into ideal early-season shape once again. Her winning time in the 2000m was 5min 40.86sec, the second- fastest time ever behind the 5:34.52 recorded by Mary Slaney in 1985.

Sally Gunnell, who believes she is only 80 per cent fit at the moment despite working singlemindedly in training after her extended spate of post-Olympic appearances, still had enough in her legs to overhaul Marina Shmonina of Russia in the final 50 metres of the 400m, which she won in 52.61sec.

Merlene Ottey will have to wait a while to regain her 60m world record from the Russian sprinter Irina Privalova, who set a new mark of 6.92 on 11 February. The Jamaican came through strongly from the half-way mark to win by two metres in 7.12sec.

In the men's triple jump, Jonathan Edwards set an allcomers' record of 17.16m on his final attempt, and in the 800m David Sharpe recorded a clear win over Tom McKean in the third of their recent meetings.

The men's 60m final got under way without Frankie Fredericks, the Namibian Olympic 100m and 200m silver medallist, who pulled out with a hamstring strain. Michael Rosswess, an Olympic 200m finalist of 1988, also sat out the race after contributing two of the four false starts which preceded it. Without the challenge of Fredericks, Andre Cason, the world record-holder from the United States, had a relatively straightforward win in 6.65sec.

MEN: 60m: 1 A Cason (US) 6.65sec; 2 J John (GB) 6.66; 3 S Tilli (It) 6.74. 200m: 1 N Antonov (Bul) 20.84; 2 M Adam (GB) 20.89; 3 J Drummond (US) 21.05. 300m: 1 J Regis (GB) 32.98; 2 S Wariso (GB) 33.19; 3 W Caldwell (US) 33.51. 400m: 1 M Johnson (US) 45.14 (UK all-comers' record); 2 D Grindley (GB) 45.89; 3 M Richardson (GB) 45.94. 800m: 1 D Sharpe (GB) 1:48.63; 2 P Piekarski (Pol) 1:48.91; 3 T McKean (GB) 1:48.95. 1500m: 1 C Impens (Bel) 3min 41.37sec; 2 M Corstjens (Bel) 3:41.39; 3 T Herrington (US) 3:41.98. Mile: 1 N Morceli (Alg) 3:50.70 (UK all- comers' record); 2 M Yates (GB) 3:55.78; 3 J Mayock (GB) 3:56.89 (Morceli also set 1500m UK all-comers' record of 3:34.73 en route). 60m hurdles: 1 C Jackson (GB) 7.44; 2 T Dees (US) 7.48; 3 M McKoy (Can) 7.50; 4 T Jarrett (GB) 7.55. High jump: 1 H Conway (US) 2.33; 2 S Smith (GB) 2.29; 3 D Grant (GB) 2.29. Triple jump: 1 J Edwards (GB) 17.16 (UK all-comers' record); 2 R Nachum (Isr) 16.55; 3 J Taiwo (Nig) 16.53. Pole vault: 1 M Tarasov (Rus) 5.81 (UK all-comers' record); 2 Y Krasnov (Isr) 5.50; 3= K Tarpenning (US) and V Ischutin (Uzb) 5.40.

WOMEN: 60m: 1 M Ottey (Jam) 7.12; 2 B Kinch (GB) 7.30; 3 P Smith (GB) 7.44. 200m: 1 G Torrence (US) 23.03; 2 K Koffa (Gr) 23.98; 3 D Webber (US) 24.03. 400m: 1 S Gunnell (GB) 52.61; 2 M Shmonina (Rus) 52.81; 3 R Stevens (US) 53.08. 800m: 1 D Modahl (GB) 2:03.08; 2 B Bruhns (Ger) 2:03.49; 3 N Dukhnova (Bela) 2:03.49. 2,000m: 1 Y Murray (GB) 5:40.90 (European, Commonwealth, UK and UK all-comers' record); 2 B Nicholson (GB) 5:45.00; 3 O Mernikova (Bela) 5:49.10. 60m hurdles: 1 J Agyepong (GB) 8.21; 2 B Bukovec (Slov) 8.24; 3 C Court (GB) 8.34. Triple jump: 1 M Agyepong (GB) 13.42m; 2 C Rhodes (US) 13.34; 3 R Kirby (GB) 13.27.

(Photograph omitted)