Athletics: Olympians at Sestriere

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The Independent Online
Linford Christie, Jonathan Edwards and Colin Jackson have a big incentive to bounce back from their Olympic disappointments this morning.

A pounds 100,000 Ferrari sports car is on offer to any athlete who can break a world record as the top class scene shifts from Atlanta to an international meeting at Sestriere in the Italian Alps.

For the world triple jump champion and Olympic silver medallist Edwards, among others, a new world mark could be very much on the cards.

The 6,726ft high location offers the Gateshead man, who was upset by American Kerry Harrison in the Olympic final, the chance to improve his own record of 18.29 metres.

Deposed Olympic champion Christie, disqualified following two false starts in the 100m at Atlanta, will test his form and his will to continue running against Canada's Bruny Surin and Nigeria's Osmond Ezinwa.

Atlanta gold medallist Allen Johnson will offer former world 110m hurdles champion Jackson the chance for a quick revenge after the Welshman finished a disappointing fourth in the Olympic final.

Meanwhile sprinters Donovan Bailey and Gail Devers in the 100m will be among a host of newly-crowned Olympic champions on parade at the Monaco meeting on Saturday.

The organisers said yesterday there would be about 20 Olympic champions and more than 50 medal winners overall from the Atlanta Games. In one of several events pitting Olympic gold and silver medal winners against each other again, world record holder Bailey, of Canada, races against Namibia's Frankie Fredericks. Christie will also be there.

Others competing include Noureddine Morceli of Algeria and Spain's Fermin Cacho in the 1500m and American Derrick Adkins and Samuel Matete of Zambia in the 400m hurdles.

The women's 100m pits Devers against both silver medal winner Merlene Ottey of Jamaica and fellow-American Gwen Torrence who took bronze. A strong field also includes Mary Onyali of Nigeria, who won bronze in the 200.

The three women on the podium in both the 400m hurdles and javelin, including champions Deon Hemmings of Jamaica and Finland's Heli Ratanen, will also be competing.

French interest expected to help fill the Monte Carlo stadium to its 20,000 capacity in the 10th Herculis grand prix will be centred on double Olympic sprint champion Marie-Jose Perec in the 400m and pole vault winner Jean Galfione.

Among the new Olympic champions, the organisers also confirmed Russian double gold medal winner Svetlana Masterkova of Russia in the 800m.

Two Romanian swimmers who refused to return home from the Atlanta Olympics are free to seek a future in the United States, Romanian Olympic committee officials said yesterday.

Officials at the US embassy in Bucharest said they had no indication whether Alexandru Ivanovici and Razvan Petcu had applied for immigration.