ATHLETICS Regis ready to face the world

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The Independent Online


John Regis is ready to run for Britain in the World Indoor Championships starting on Friday. The world 200 metres silver medallist, who injured a hamstring 10 days ago in Stockholm, will have a final fitness test this morning, but he is confident that he will compete in Barcelona.

Malcolm Arnold, Britain's director of coaching, said that Regis could leave it until the end of the week before flying out, rather than going with the main bulk of the team today.

But there was more downbeat news for the British team yesterday, with the announcement that Brian Whittle had dropped out of the 400m, and Ashia Hansen was unable to compete in the triple jump because of a heel injury.

Hansen has improved the Commonwealth record four times this season, jumping 14.29m the weekend before last - form which gave her a chance of a medal. Paul Slythe, a member of the relay squad, now partners Mark Hylton in the individual 400m; no other triple jumper has been nominated.

In the meantime, Peter Radford, executive chairman of the British Athletic Federation, has played a straight bat in response to the controversial withdrawal from Barcelona of Linford Christie.

"I would like all our top athletes to compete in the top events as a matter of routine," Radford said. "But if a superstar does not, it's not the end of the sport. It's actually the beginning, because doors are opened for those who would not have had the chance."

Christie pulled out because of tiredness after a demanding round of indoor meetings - a problem Radford is addressing by introducing contracts as part of a blueprint for the sport which will be unveiled later this month.

"Contracts are not the panacea for all ills," he said. "But they will reward athletes with funding for planning their programmes properly. The current calendar is a very busy one, and we must be aware of the many competitions we are asking them to be involved in. At the moment, certain groups are seduced into some meetings for money at the cost of proper preparation."

One major need identified by Radford in a sport which he described as being "in the midst of great change" was a 60,000-plus stadium to host world or European championships.

Radford said he had an open mind as to the stadium's venue, but virtually ruled out Crystal Palace because of problems in developing it.