Athletics: New targets for Jackson: Mike Rowbottom looks at British prospects in the European Indoor Championships in Paris

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The Independent Online
WHEN you become the best in your field, finding further challenges can be a problem. Colin Jackson, whose world indoor record last Sunday emphasised his status as the finest high hurdler on the planet, has given himself another little task.

'I want to do the whole season undefeated in the hurdles,' he said. 'That's what I'm aiming for.'

Last season, when he won the world 110 metres hurdles title in a world record of 12.91sec, was marred by only one defeat over the barriers, in Berlin. Hardly disastrous. But Jackson is now so outstanding that self-generated targets have become important.

Tonight, at the Bercy Stadium in Paris, the 27-year-old from Cardiff has set himself the novel challenge of winning the European Indoor Championships 60 metres. His prospects in tomorrow's 60m hurdles are so strong as to be hardly worth questioning.

Jackson's main rivals on the flat are likely to be Britain's double bronze medallist in this event, Mike Rosswess, Marc Blume, of Germany and the Russian, Alexander Porkhomovskiy, who finished second to Linford Christie in last year's European Cup final.

'I'm here to win the hurdles because that's my main event, but I'm really going to try to upset the sprinters as well. Learning the technique needed for sprinting at this level has been a challenge - but I couldn't have had a better teacher.'

He referred to Linford Christie, who will be at the stadium offering his advice today.

In tomorrow's hurdles, Jackson's main rivals are likely to be, well . . . Gheorghe Boroi, of Romania, and Mike Fenner of Germany have run in the low 7.50s this year. But unless Jackson hits a hurdle there should be no doubt of the winner. He reasons that, even if his efforts tonight tire him, he will simply be running closer to 7.40sec than his world record mark of 7.30. And that should be sufficient.

Jackson is one of relatively few premier league names to enter these championships. Heike Drechsler, Germany's world and Olympic long jump champion, and her fellow German, Jens Peter Herold, the European 1500m champion, are among the others.

But most leading athletes - including Britons such as Christie, Sally Gunnell, John Regis and Tony Jarrett - have already wound down their indoor seasons and are preparing for the outdoor season.

Despite the withdrawal, through illness and injury respectively, of Melanie Neef and John Maycock, two who looked ready to make a breakthrough in Paris, there are other British candidates.

At 400m, Mark Richardson and Du'Aine Ladejo, the latter now back from his US college, are No 1 and No 2 in the European rankings. Ladejo has been in better form recently, although Richardson has run faster. Their likely rivals include Rico Lieder of Germany, fourth in last year's world indoor championships, and Andrea Nuti of Italy.

Martin Steele, second fastest in the world at 800 metres last year, is running into form to challenge for the 800m title, although the holder, Luis Javier Gonzalez of Spain, recently set a national record of 1min 46.35sec, and Nico Motchebon of Germany, a world indoor bronze medallist, is also looking strong.

David Strang, the Scot based in Virginia, has an excellent chance in the 1500m, where he won world indoor silver last year. He and Herold should produce some race.

Elsewhere, Dalton Grant, so unlucky so often, has a clear chance to win his first international high jump title, and Alison Wyeth has definite chances over 3,000m.

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