Athletics: World Cup gold leads Sanderson into temptation

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The Independent Online
VICTORY on the second day of the World Cup here has led two Britons into temptation: Tessa Sanderson, the gold medallist in the javelin, seems no more capable of resisting it than Oscar Wilde; Jonathan Edwards, winner of the triple jump, appears more likely to endure.

At 36, and with her fifth and last Olympic Games behind her, Sanderson is set to retire. After winning full points for the European team with a throw of 61.86 metres, she confirmed that, yes she did intend to call it a day.

But when the prospect of next year's world championships in Stuttgart was dangled in front of her, she came on rather like Marlene Dietrich. 'What can I say, boys? I can't rule temptation out totally.'

In her ideal world, she will return home for a rest and then gain a job in television, a medium she has had some experience in as a presenter, preferably in a sporty/chatty context.

She has, apparently, got several screen tests lined up. If, however, the world turns out to be less than ideal, the fact that she is still the leading British thrower may well be enough to persuade her to have a final fling in Stuttgart.

On being asked if she regarded herself - rather than her old rival Fatima Whitbread - as the best British woman thrower there has been, she paused for a moment, and you wondered if she could resist the question. She could not.

'I've got to be the No 1, haven't I? With all due respect to what Fatima's done, you only have to look at the major championship list. The record book shows itself. I came in first and I'm going out last,' she added with a chuckle. 'The bank balance is more in her favour. But what the hell?' She is the definitive trouper.

The prospect of the world championships is also giving Edwards some discomfiture, but for a different reason. As a committed Christian, he has chosen not to compete on Sundays, which will mean that he cannot contest the triple jump in Stuttgart. After the bitter disappointment of the Barcelona Olympics, where he failed to qualify for the final, he admits that he did give thought to bending his rule. 'If I had done well at the Olympics, I wouldn't have minded. But the thought came into my mind: 'can I wait so long for a big competition to come round again?'

'As it stands now, though, I'm not going to jump. I don't believe it compromises my faith - I know, for instance, that Kriss Akabusi competes on a Sunday - but I just feel that's the stand God wants me to take. If God wanted me to jump on a Sunday he would show me.'

At this point it was suggested to Edwards that God had indeed given him a sign, as his event had taken place entirely on a Sunday in British time. He took it rather well. 'I guess it's local time that counts,' he said.

Whatever the case, there was no doubt about the fact that Edwards pulled his season smartly up by the bootstraps as he won maximum points for Britain with his last jump of the competition - 17.34m, his third furthest ever. What made his performance the more impressive was the fact that he had been suffering from food poisoning since the previous night, and Mark Forsythe, the long jumper, had been put on stand-by.

One of the best things about this competition from a British point of view is the opportunity it has given to athletes who either did not get the Barcelona Games right or failed narrowly to qualify for their Olympic event. Mark Richardson, who ran a committed race from the outside lane to earn second place in the 400m here, falls into the latter category; he failed by effectively one place at the Olympic trials, and then had the chagrin of seeing his fellow 19- year-old, David Grindley, reach the final and break the British record.

Richardson, a composed and articulate character who is midway through a sports science degree at Loughborough University, is due a bronze medal from the Olympic 4 x 400m after running a leg for Britain in the semi-final. What with his gold medal from the world championship relay, where he also ran in an earlier round, he is at least getting together a nice collection of rewards.

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