Athletics / World Athletics Championships: Edwards' best brings Britain second medal: Disappointment for British javelin men while Devers edges Ottey for women's sprint crown

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The Independent Online
JONATHAN EDWARDS won Britain's second medal of the World Championships last night when he produced a personal best triple jump of 17.44 metres to take bronze behind the winner, America's Olympic champion Mike Conley, who recorded 17.85m.

Earlier, the evening had given way to confusion and controversy as Merlene Ottey and Gail Devers crossed the line together in the 100m final and stood bewildered on the track together for several minutes before officials gave the title to the American Olympic champion by 10.81 to 10.82sec.

The Jamaicans protested on Ottey's behalf, claiming that Devers had registered her time with her head rather than her torso. But the result was upheld, and Ottey was left to reflect on yet another failure to gain a major title in a 10-year career full of superb running.

Edwards had indicated his medal potential earlier this season in winning the GB v USA match at Edinburgh in a leap of 17.70m that was ruled illegal for record purposes because of a wind speed narrowly over the accepted limit.

Now the man, who until recently refused to compete on a Sunday because of his religious beliefs, has tangible proof of his talent. It is a happy time for this 28-year-old Minister's son. Shortly before he came out to Stuttgart, his wife, Alison, gave birth to a son, Samuel.

He had moved into contention with second and fourth round jumps of 17.24 and 17.31m, but it was only on his penultimate effort that he produced the performance which took him above the home jumper, Ralf Jaros. He had to endure the wait as Jaros, the 13th to go, took the last jump of the competition. 'My heart was pumping when he took that jump,' Edwards said.

Elsewhere, teamwork was the order of the day - and it came as a nasty shock to some individuals. The expected impact from the Chinese women - missing from the marathon, where they had no competitors - arrived in the 3,000m, where the white- shirted, red-shorted runners took all three medals in what looked like an exercise in formation running. Sonia O'Sullivan of Ireland, who has been the leading runner on the European circuit this season, was left in forlorn pursuit.

Khalid Skah, Morocco's Olympic 10,000m champion, was frustrated in his ambition to win over 5,000m as first the Kenyans, and then the Ethiopians worked together on the track. In the end the title was won by Ismail Kirui, the 18-year-old younger brother of Richard Chelimo, whom Skah beat so controversially in last year's Olympic final. It was a case of family revenge.

There was frustration too for Mick Hill in the javelin, who leapt with joy after his last throw, only to discover it was 82.96m, failing by just 42 centimetres to lift him into bronze medal position. Steve Backley finished one place behind him, and thankfully in one piece, with 81.80m. Jan Zelezny added the world title to his Olympic title with a fifth throw of 85.98m.

By 2,000m through the 5,000m, after Michael Chesire had stretched the early pace to prevent Skah getting a slow race, his Kenyan team-mate Kirui had taken a 20-metre lead, with only the three Ethiopians - Gebresilasie, Bikila and Bayesa - and Skah following him. Britain's Rob Denmark, who eventually finished ninth in 13:27.09, was finding the pace too fast.

So it stayed until the bell, where Kirui looked round momentarily like a hunted animal. Around the final bend, Gebresilasie was the man who began to close the 40-metre gap. By the line, it was no more than five - but Kirui was safe, crossing the line in a world junior record of 13:02.75.

The Chinese women's performance destroyed the rest of the 3,000m field within the space of 30 seconds. At the end, Yvonne Murray, who finished a dejected ninth, and O'Sullivan embraced in bewilderment. Murray had taken an early lead, but then dropped back into the group. She was still in the leading pack with 600 metres to go when the Chinese, following the orders of their coach situated near the front of the back straight stand, accelerated through to take the first three places. Murray could not respond - 'my legs felt too heavy' - and O'Sullivan, who had endured the disappointment of finishing fourth in the Olympic final a year before, delayed her response too long. 'I thought it was a fake break,' she said. 'I didn't think it was for real.'

Qu Yunxia, a bronze medallist in last year's Olympic 1,500m was first over the line in 8.28.71, followed by Zhang Linli and Zhang Lirong.

Frank Dick, Britain's director of coaching, said last night that Linford Christie would not be doing the 200m, the heats of which start today, because of a 'mild sore throat'.

Earlier today, it appeared clear that Christie had played a full captain's role in sorting out a dispute between Curtis Robb and America's Johnny Gray, who offered to fight the Liverpudlian over the dig in the ribs he claimed had resulted in his failure to reach the 800m final.

Gray was dissuaded from pressing his point when Christie, 6ft 3in and 14 1/2 stone, stepped in only a few minutes after he had taken the 100m title and told him that if he messed with his guys, he messed with him. All in a day's work for a superhero.

(Photograph omitted)

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