Bailey starts mind games with attack on Christie

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Donovan Bailey, who succeeded Linford Christie as world 100 metres champion, yesterday accused the Briton of faking injury in last year's final. The Canadian added that Christie was bluffing when he said he would not defend his Olympic title in Atlanta this summer.

After finishing sixth behind Bailey in Gothenburg, Christie lay face down on the track and received ice-pack treatment for a hamstring injury which appeared to have happened in the semi-final.

But Bailey, who took the title in 9.97sec, insisted: "There was absolutely no one injured in the final in Gothenburg. Watch it over and over again - no one in that race was hurt. If Linford had a hamstring injury it was healed the next day. He was in the athletes village and ready to run in the relay if needed."

Bailey pointed out that Christie beat him in Zurich 10 days later in 10.03. "That answers the question," he said. "I've had hamstring injuries before, and it takes at least a couple of weeks to be back at full speed - unless you have an amazing, out-of-this-world physiotherapist."

But the 28-year-old who, like Christie, was born in Jamaica, is confident his 35-year-old British rival will be in Atlanta for a race which he believes could be "the biggest race in history" - assuming everyone is fit.

"I think Linford is bluffing the media," he said. "I think he'll run the Olympics. I certainly don't think he's too old - if you are running 10 seconds flat, as he is now, you could be 85 and still compete. Ask any of the people I am sprinting against now if Linford will do Atlanta and they will tell you, 'Of course he's running'."

Bailey's comments, aptly enough given his inference of acting, were made inside the British Academy of Film and Television Arts, where he was helping to publicise a new television campaign by his sponsors, Adidas.

The British Athletic Federation spokesman, Tony Ward, said: "These remarks are not credible. They also reflect unfairly on our medical team, who treated Linford in Gothenburg."

The remarks were also strongly denied by Sue Barrett, Christie's agent at his management company, Nuff Respect. "Donovan won the title when Linford was not fully fit. But he should remember how Linford won in the Barcelona Olympics when Carl Lewis wasn't running the individual event. Things like that happen. It doesn't mean you can start talking rubbish about your fellow competitors. He should be very careful about what he is saying.

"There is no secret to what happened with Linford. He was injured in the final, and he went away the next day to get excellent treatment to which he responded very well."

While being treated outside Zurich by the same medical specialist who operated on Sally Gunnell's troublesome heel in September last year, Christie had a scan which showed he was also suffering from knee cartilage problems.

"As far as competing in the Olympics goes," Barrett continued, "Donovan obviously knows Linford's mind better than he does himself because no decision has been made yet."

Bailey, who remained genial - if a little bemused - throughout his audience with the massed media, denied that he saw Christie as the main threat at the Olympics - "I compete only against myself and the clock," he said. But he was clearly well aware that the opposition would be formidable.

"The Americans are going to send out three guys who are going to be smoking," he said. "They won't want people coming to their show and sweeping the sprints."

And he acknowledged that Christie was a serious contender. "I think some of the other sprinters have not been tough enough mentally to beat him," he said. "He is a very confident man. But I am physically strong and mentally I'm even tougher."

Bailey's mind-games technique certainly appears in good shape as summer approaches.