Athletics / World Indoor Athletics Championships: Murray hurries to gold

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The Independent Online
NOT everything went according to plan for Yvonne Murray at the World Indoor Championships here. To let her know whether she was on world-record pace in her 3,000 metres final on Saturday, Britain's director of coaching, Frank Dick, unable to get close enough to the track to shout out lap times, brandished towels from the stand. A red towel meant the lap was over the target time of 34 seconds; a white towel meant it was under.

'I never saw him,' Murray said with a grin after her runaway victory in 8min 50.55sec. 'I said to him afterwards, 'Frank, what happened to the towels?' and he said 'I gave up after 400 metres'.'

The opening pace was so slow that Murray would have had to do all the running herself to challenge the mark of 8:33.82 set in these championships by Elly Van Hulst four years ago. That less important target went by the boards, however, as she carried out to perfection the tactic she had agreed with her coach Tommy Boyle, accelerating after 1,000m to lay down a challenge which caused the rest of the field to throw in the towel immediately.

The lack of reaction from Van Hulst, the European indoor champion Margareta Keszeg, of Romania, the world cross-country champion Lynn Jennings and Olga Kovpotina, of Russia, who led the season's rankings going into the race, was disappointing. And the absence of athletes such as Liz McColgan, Elana Meyer and the Olympic champion, Yelena Romanova, diminished the event.

Murray readily acknowledged as much. 'In most people's eyes the World Indoor Championships don't rate highly,' she said. 'But for up-and-coming athletes or those who need to get over a disappointment in the summer, they are very important.'

The 28-year-old from Musselburgh fell into the second category. After finishing ninth in the Olympic final, she had seriously considered whether to give up the sport. Her experience in Barcelona was part of a depressing sequence that began for her in the 1991 European Cup final, where she was passed by four runners just 200m from the line after going too fast from the gun, and continued with another crushing defeat in the World Championships.

In retrospect, she feels her victory in the 1990 European Championships, where she beat a field including Romanova with a sustained sprint over the last 600m, began to work against her. 'I was very silly,' she said. 'Having won a major championship, I thought 'God, I've got to stay up there and win every single race'.'

For Murray, Saturday's race represented what she hopes will be a more relaxed approach, a move away from the increasingly intricate tactics of waiting and sprinting which had begun to oppress her.

Did she believe that she could win an Olympic or a world outdoor title? 'If I didn't believe I could do it, I wouldn't be running,' she said.

For Scotland's other success of Saturday night, David Strang, the silver medal earned behind Ireland's Marcus O'Sullivan in the 1500m was perhaps less important than the green card he is now likely to receive from the US Immigration Department, which recently refused his application to stay on after studying at Stanford University because he was not considered a world-class athlete.

Strang, a 24-year-old who lived in Glasgow for five years before emigrating to South Africa, seemed more concerned to establish his Scottish credentials afterwards. 'I love Glasgow, I love Scottish rugby, I love Billy Connolly,' he said. 'I know most people back home will say, 'David who?', but I hope to change that now.'

For Jonathan Edwards, who had entered the triple jump with realistic hopes of a medal, there was only disappointment as he finished seventh with 16.76m. Pierre Camara, of France, won in a personal best of 17.59m.


(Finals unless stated)

MEN: 60m: 1 B Surin (Can) 6.50sec; 2 F Fredericks (Nam) 6.51; 3 T Mansoor (Qatar) 6.57. Did not finish J John (GB). 60m hurdles: 1 M McKoy (Can) 7.41sec; 2 C Jackson (GB) 7.43; 3 T Dees (US) 7.43. 200m: 1 J Trapp (US) 20.63; 2 D Marsh (Aus) 20.71; 3 K Little (US) 20.72. 400m: 1 H Reynolds (US) 45.26; 2 S Bada (Nigeria) 45.75; 3 D Clark (Aus) 46.45. 800m: 1 T McKean (GB) 1min 47.29sec; 2 C Nkazamyampi (Bur) 1:47.62; 3 N Motchebon (Ger) 1:48.15. 1500m: 1 M O'Sullivan (Irl) 3:45.00; 2 D Strang (GB) 3:45.30; 3 B Zorko (Croa) 3:45.39. 3,000m: 1 G Di Napoli (It) 7:50.26; 2 E Dubus (Fr) 7:50.57; 3 E Molina (Sp) 7:51.10. 5km walk: 1 M Shchennikov (Rus) 18min 32.10sec; 2 R Korzeniowski (Pol) 18:35.91; 3 M Orlov (Rus) 18:43.48. High jump: 1 J Sotomayor (Cuba) 2.41m; 2 P Sjoeberg (Swe) 2.39; 3 S Smith (GB) 2.37. Long jump: 1 I Pedroso (Cuba) 8.23m; 2 J Greene (US) 8.13; 3 D Ivanov (Bul) 7.98. Triple jump: 1 P Camara (Fr) 17.59m; 2 M Bruziks (Lat) 17.36; 3 N Raev (Bul) 17.27; 7 J Edwards (GB) 16.76. Shot: 1 M Stulce (US) 21.27m; 2 J Doehring (US) 21.08; 3 A Bagach (Ukr) 20.63; 9 P Edwards (GB) 18.32. Pole vault: 1 R Gataullin (Rus) 5.90m; 2 G Yegorov (Kaz) 5.80; 3 J Galfione (Fr) 5.80. 4 x 400m relay: 1 United States 3:04.20; 2 Trinidad and Tobago 3:07.02; 3 Japan 3:07.30. Heptathlon (exhibition): 60m: Heat 1: 1 D O'Brien (US) 6.67; 2 R Zmelik (Cz R) 6.96; 3 A Nazarov (Est) 6.98. Heat 2: 1 L Lobodin (Ukr) 6.89; 2 A Burrell (Sp) 6.99; 3 M Smith (Can) 7.06. 60m hurdles: Heat 1: 1 E Hamalainen (Bela) 7.93; 2 L Lobodin (Ukr) 7.98; 3 W Motti (Fr) 8.66. Heat 2: 1 O'Brien 7.85; 2 Smith 7.98; 3 Nazarov 8.07. High jump: 1 O'Brien 2.13m; 2 W Motti (Fr) 2.13; 3 Smith 2.10. Long jump: 1 O'Brien 7.84m; 2 R Zmelik (Cz Rep) 7.57; 3 Smith 7.49. Shot: 1 O'Brien 16.02m; 2 Smith 15.97; 3 B Brophy (US) 15.13). Final standings: 1 O'Brien 6,476pts (world record); 2 Smith 6,279; 3 Hamalainen 6,075.

WOMEN: 60m: 1 G Devers (US) 6.95sec; 2 I Privalova (Rus) 6.97; 3 J Tarnapolskaya (Ukr) 7.21. Did not qualify: M Richardson (GB) 7.41. 60m hurdles: 1 J Baumann (Fr) 7.96; 2 L Martin-Floreal (US) 7.99; 3 P Girard (Fr) 8.01. 200m: 1 I Privalova (Rus) 22.15; 2 M Gainsford (Aus) 22.73; 3 N Voronova (Rus) 22.90. 400m: 1 S Richards (Jam) 50.93; 2 T Alekseeva (Rus) 51.03; 3 J Miles (US) 51.37. 800m: 1 M Mutola (Moz) 1:57.55; 2 S Masterkova (Rus) 1:59.18; 3 J Clark (US) 1:59.86. 1500m: 1 E Podkopaeva (Rus) 4:09.29; 2 V Beclea (Rom) 4:09.41; 3 S Gasser (Swit) 4:10.99. 3,000m: 1 Y Murray (GB) 8:50.55; 2 M Keszeg (Rom) 9:02.89; 3 L Jennings (US) 9:03.78. 3,000m walk: 1 E Nikolaeva (Rus) 11:49.73; 2 K Junna-Saxby (Aus) 11:53.82; 3 I Salvador (It) 11:55.35. High jump: 1 S Kostadinova (Bul) 2.02m; 2 H Henkel (Ger) 2.02; 3 I Babakova (Ukr) 2.00; 9 J Jennings (GB) 1.94. Did not qualify: D Marti (GB) 1.79. Triple jump: 1 I Kravets (Ukr) 14.47m (world record); 2 Y Chen (Rus) 14.36; 3 I Lasovskaya (Rus) 14.35. Shot: 1 S Kriveleva (Rus) 19.57m; 2 S Storp (Ger) 19.37; 3 Liuhong Zhang (Ch) 19.32. Pentathlon (exhibition) final standings: 1 I Belova (Rus) 4,787pts; 2 L Nastase (Rom) 4,686; 3 U Wlodarczyk (Pol) 4,667. 4 x 400m relay final: 1 Russia 3:28.90; 2 Jamaica 3:32.32; 3 United States.

(Photograph omitted)