Athletics: Strang rising in the ranks: Mike Rowbottom salutes two men who flew the flag in Paris

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The Independent Online
BRITAIN'S best performance in the 23 European Indoor Championships, which have been held since 1966 - five golds and two bronzes - was achieved in traditional circumstances. That is, most of its best athletes were not there.

The indoor championships, at world or European level, are a kind of equivalent to football's League Cup - not the supreme prize, but prestigious nevertheless. And often, a means for the second rank of athletes to establish a reputation.

Two of the four British athletes who won gold medals have effectively put themselves on the sporting map by their efforts - David Strang, who took the 1500m title, and Du'Aine Ladejo, who won the 400m.

Strang, a 25-year-old Scottish runner now based in Arlington, Virginia, consolidated the success he had in winning the world indoor silver medal at 1500m last year.

After his unsuccessful appearance in last summer's world championship trials in Birmingham, he felt that his performance in Toronto was in danger of being regarded as a flash in the pan. 'My major priority this year is the outdoor season. I don't want to be known as an indoor specialist. I only raced once indoors before last season. I'm just an outdoor specialist who hasn't quite got it together to crack it yet.'

One other thing Strang has yet to crack is the US Immigration department. When he flies back to Washington today he will have his lawyer standing by in case there are any objections to him re-entering the country. Strang does not have a Green Card - he has yet to convince the authorities that he is a world-class athlete and thus entitled to one. The situation should be rectified in September, when he plans to marry his American girlfriend, Ginny. But September feels like a long time away.

Du'Aine Ladejo, who returned to England last year after six years at an American high school in Cleveland, Ohio, and the University of Texas, has been on the fringe of recognition for two years. He had the half-satisfying distinction of earning an Olympic bronze after running in the 400m relay heats, but his determined performance in the Palais Omnisports allowed him to drape himself in the Union Jack.