Athletics: Winter's prosperous season

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VISITING TEAMS from Australia and South Africa gave a slightly distorted picture of the strength of British junior athletics at the Amateur Athletics Association Under-20 Championships in Bedford on Saturday and yesterday, writes Phil Minshull.

However, amid the sight of gold medals going overseas, there was some good news on the domestic front. Neil Winter gave notice that the United Kingdom pole-vault record of 5.65 metres, which has survived for 12 years, is about to come under threat.

Winter, the highest junior vaulter in Europe this year, equalled his best for 1993 with 5.40m and also scored a championship best, adding 5cm to his own mark set last year. 'It's only a matter of time before I get the UK record,' he said.

Winter may find a UK record easier to achieve than a European Junior Championship medal. He travels to San Sebastian, Spain, in three weeks' time knowing that he faces very tough competition from vaulters from France and the former Soviet republics.

When Linford Christie eventually decides to vacate his role as Britain's fastest man, one of those in the pack chasing the accolade will be Danny Joyce. Racing on his home track, Joyce sped to a wind-assisted sprint double over 100 and 200m in times of 10.46 and 21.60sec.

So did Birchfield's Katherine Merry, another European Junior medal contender, who had times of 11.40 and 23.43sec, the former equalling the fastest time by a Briton this year (although it was wind assisted), and the latter another championship best.