Athletics: Smith's clearance breaks record

Click to follow
The Independent Online
STEVE SMITH, who was Britain's youngest Olympic athlete this year, yesterday made up for his relative disappointment in Barcelona by taking a gold medal on the final day of the world junior championships in Seoul with a high jump of 2.37 metres, a world junior, British and Commonwealth record.

Britain's happy day was completed when the 4 x 100m relay team, comprising the individual silver medallist Darren Campbell, Allyn Condon, James Bauch and Jason Fergus added a second gold medal with a time of 39.21sec, finishing ahead of the United States and Nigeria.

At 19, Smith has become a major contender in his field. He was Britain's only representative in the Olympic final after Brendan Reilly and Dalton Grant - whose British and joint Commonwealth record of 2.36m he has now surpassed - failed to qualify. He finished 12th there, with 2.24, but the experience proved an intensely frustrating one for him as, after failing twice at 2.31, he missed 2.34, which was the height reached by all the medallists, by the graze of his heel. As he sat cursing and beating his fists on the bench in the Montjuc stadium, he was clearly learning a harsh but valuable lesson.

'I was desperate to win,' he said yesterday. 'I felt pressure because I put it on myself, but I can cope with it. I was telling a lot of people I would set a world record - not arrogantly, just jokingly.'

That became a serious proposition as Tim Forsyth, Australia's Olympic bronze medallist, and the Liverpool Harrier made impressive clearances at their early heights.

At 2.29, Smith cleared easily but Forsyth failed his first attempt before moving on to clear 2.31 with his last jump. Smith, however, had failed twice at 2.31, and gambled on taking his last jump at 2.33. He cleared it, and successive failures at 2.33, 2.35 and 2.37 meant the Australian ended as silver medallist, as he had two years earlier.

When Smith moved on to clear 2.35, it was the best by a junior in 1992. On his second attempt at 2.37, the world junior record set in 1990 by Dragutin Topic of Yugoslavia, he went over barely touching the bar. It was the highest jump outdoors this year at any level.

Linford Christie has 'won' a world championship 100m bronze medal five years after the event. The IAAF has decided that since Ben Johnson's 1987 record 'has been decertified, his medal-winning performance at the world championships in Rome that year should also be removed.' The gold medal is therefore transferred to Carl Lewis, the silver to Ray Stewart and the bronze to Christie.

Sergei Bubka set his 32nd pole vault world record, 6.13m, at the Tokyo International Meeting on Saturday. Bubka bettered the record he set in Italy last month by one centimetre on his third vault. Carl Lewis, in the stadium where he set the world 100m record at the world championships last year, lost to his American team-mate, Dennis Mitchell, who clocked 10.18sec to Lewis's 10.25.

Comments