Athletics: Radcliffe soothes selectors with best 1500m this season: Former world junior cross-country champion justifies World Championship place as 20-year-old impresses in 10,000m debut

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The Independent Online
IT HAS been an uncomfortable weekend for Britain's selectors, but Paula Radcliffe did everything she could to soothe their ruffled sensibilities at Loughborough yesterday. Radcliffe, who was given a 3,000 metres place in the World Championships despite finishing outside the first three in last week's trial at Crystal Palace, won the 1500m in the three-sided match between the AAA, British Students and Loughborough Students in the fastest time by a British woman this season.

The former world junior cross- country champion recorded 4min 11.6sec to supersede the 4:12.37 run by Yvonne Murray in Portsmouth two weeks earlier. It was a second faster than the personal best she had set three weeks ago in Granada.

Radcliffe was not the only British woman to excel herself. Jenny Clague, a 20-year-old aerobics instructor from Liverpool, ran 32:41.29 in her first 10,000m, at Hengelo in the Netherlands, where she finished fifth behind Uta Pippig of Germany, whose winning time was 31:29.50. Clague, who was fourth in Boston last year as Radcliffe won her cross-country title, ran the fastest 10,000m debut by a British woman - Liz McColgan only managed 33:19.14 - but it was tantalisingly outside the world championship qualifying mark of 32:40.

Clague, it seems, must try again, as must Suzanne Rigg, who finished seventh in 32:59.31. Catherina McKiernan, Ireland's world cross-country silver medallist achieved the mark, finishing fourth in 32:14.54.

Radcliffe took most satisfaction from the manner of her victory: she sprinted away from the pack with 250m to go. 'I decided I was not going to go to the front and do what everyone expected,' she said. 'I have been experimenting with tactics and this has given me confidence.'

It has also bolstered the selectors. Their decision to give Tom McKean, who has not had an outdoor race this season, the opportunity to seek a fifth European Cup 800m title, looked questionable on Saturday. Martin Steele, who had won the British title the week before, lowered his personal best in Belfast to 1:45.28 in a race which saw McKean finish a relatively sluggish fourth. The Scot was unabashed after the race, however, pointing to his record in previous seasons when his times have come sharply down. He will seek either another race or a time-trial this week. Curtis Robb, who runs the 1500 metres in Rome had a disappointing sharpening exercise in his Olympic final distance of 800m at Hengelo, finishing ninth - and last - in 1:47.36.

In deciding to make Steve Smith compete against Dalton Grant in Belfast for the European Cup high jump place, the selectors managed to get both jumpers' backs up.

Smith, who secured his place in Rome by clearing 2.33m at his last attempt, looked predictably drained by his exertions as he came back down to earth at Loughborough. He failed three times at 2.25m, thus giving a relatively rare victory to Brendan Reilly.

Dave Moorcroft, whose time of 4:02.53 in the mile in Belfast was the fastest for the distance outdoors by a veteran (40 and over), will meet Eamonn Coghlan, the holder of the indoor veteran mile record, in either Stockholm or Oslo next month.

PEARL INTERNATIONAL GAMES (Belfast): Men: 100m: 1 J John (GB) 10.48sec; 2 E Tuffour (Gha) 10.59; 3 M Adam (GB) 10.68. High jump: 1 S Smith (GB) 2.33; 2 P Sjoberg (Swe) 2.30; 3 D Grant (GB) 2.30. 100m hurdles: 1 J Agyepong (GB) 13.17; 2 K McKenzie (US) 13.60; 3 L Solli (Nor) 13.63. 800m B race: 1 A Lill (GB) 1min 47.11sec; 2 K Barnabas (Ken) 1:47.12; 3 P Konchellah (Ken) 1:47.53. 3,000m: 1 F O'Mara (Irl) 7:49.33; 2 P Hanneck (Zim) 7:50.12; 3 J Mayock (GB) 7:50.70. 300m: 1 J Regis (GB) 31.98; 2 D Grindley 32.45; 3 D Ladejo (GB) 33.00. 800m A race: 1 M Steele (GB) 1:45.28; 2 W Kipketer (Den) 1:45.49; 3 L Gonzalez (Sp) 1:45.81; 4 T McKean (GB) 1:46.17. Mile: 1 R Kiplagat (Den) 3:59.24; 2 S Cram (GB) 3:59.32; 3 R Denmark (GB) 3:59.60; 10 D Moorcroft (GB) 4:02.53 (world veterans best). 200m: 1 T Jarrett (GB) 21.08; 2 S Gariba (Gha) 21.28; 3 T Box (GB) 21.33. 400m: 1= S Amegather (Gha), A Mafe (GB) 46.51; 3 A Patrick (GB) 47.36. 110m hurdles: 1 T Kearns (Irl) 13.81; 2 A Tulloch (GB) 13.84; 3 G Gundersen (Nor) 13.96. Triple jump: 1 J Edwards (GB) 17.28; 2 T Fasinro (GB) 16.78; 3 J Golley (GB) 16.61. Women: 100m hurdles: 1 J Agyepong (GB) 13.17; 2 K McKenzie (US) 13.60; 3 L Solli (Nor) 13.63. Les Jones Memorial Mile: 1 Y Murray (GB) 4:36.52; 2 B Hartigan (GB) 4:38.60; 3 D Gunning (GB) 4:38.81. Discus: 1 J McKernan (GB) 55.18m; 2 D Callaway (GB) 52.90; 3 S Andrews (GB) 52.66. Shot: 1 K Danilczyk (Pol) 17.80; 2 M Augee (GB) 17.70; 3 M Lynes (GB) 15.92.

Ireland's Sonia O'Sullivan clipped almost seven seconds off the 1993 world best for the 3,000m at the Adriaan Paulen Memorial meeting in Hengelo, the Netherlands, yesterday.