Breathtaking Braithwaite

Christie, overshadowed in the 60m sprint, runs into controversy as he confirms his flight to Barcelona
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The Independent Online
LINFORD CHRISTIE returned to Britain as the new world 200 metres indoor record-holder at the KP Invitation meeting here yesterday and promptly got beaten over his more favoured 60m distance by Darren Braithwaite. He then became involved in a controversy over the non- appearance of the previous man to beat him over the distance indoors, Michael Rosswess, but most important of all announced his decision to run in the world indoor championships in Barcelona next month.

Christie dismissed his defeat as "one of those things". He said: "It's nice to be beaten now and again; it shakes you up. That's what makes the sport exciting. I'm still pleased with the way things are going this winter and I can tell you that I've decided to go to Barcelona. I'll only run the 60m because it's not possible to double up there."

The decision means that as there are only two sprint places available in the British team, Christie and Braithwaite will surely take them, leaving Rosswess a victim of administrative failure that was admitted by the British Athletic Federation last night.

The Federation's spokesman, Tony Ward, said: "Because of an administrative error, Michael Rosswess did not receive a communication telling him there would be heats today. He turned up expecting to run in the final but arrived too late. Today was not a run-off for the world championships and account will be taken of his performances this season."

However, now that Christie has chosen to run, that chance for Rosswess seems to have gone. The angry Haringey runner said: Now I can see why Linford Christie is sometimes the way he is if we are treated this shabbily. I was in the best form of my life and had all my family here."

Christie elected to run only the 60m yesterday. A slight back problem persuaded him not to have another go at the 200m, which he had unexpectedly entered six days before in France and spiked John Regis's world record ambitions by taking the mark himself in 20.25sec. Even so, he arrived in Birmingham as the new European indoor short sprint record holder, having recorded 6.47sec on Livin's quick track.

Yesterday the Olympic champion had the outstanding Frankie Fredericks, of Namibia, and Olapade Adeniken, of Nigeria, the indoor world 100m record holder, against him.

But it was 26-year-old Braithwaite who surprised them all with a finishing burst that thrust him ahead. Braithwaite had never run quicker indoors, setting a personal best time of 6.54sec compared with Christie's 6.55sec and Fredericks' 6.56.

Although beaten and disqualified in France the previous week, Regis had run a 200m in 20.24sec, which would have been a personal best. He explained his running out of lane on his attacking the bend too quickly for his own good.

Ironically, yesterday he seemed to beat Fredericks and Christie's earlier conqueror, Braithwaite, in a good time of 20.44sec and this time appeared to attack the final bend in a more considered way to hold off Fredericks' gathering attack, but again he stepped out of lane on the final bend and again he was disqualified.

Twice world steeplechase champion Moses Kiptanui, of Kenya, who had broken his own world 3,000m indoor record in a time of 7min 35.15sec in Ghent earlier this month, yesterday had to face Venuste Nyongabo, of Burundi, the world No 2 in the mile, and found himself in the race of the day. After some early pacemaking, these two took over the event, interchanging the lead at a pace always close to the world's best. Finally, Nyongabo accelerated away going into the last lap to break Kiptanui and finish two seconds outside the world best, with John Mayock, of Britain, a good third.

Ashia Hansen's highly promising start to the season continued apace when she increased her Commonwealth and United Kingdom triple jump record to 14.29m to finish second behind the Russian world record holder and world champion, Anna Biryukova, who broke the United Kingdom all-comers record with 14.35.

Rarely in Britain have so many top-class international athletes been gathered together for an indoor meeting. Among the best was the sprint world record- holder, Irina Privalova, of Russia, who earlier this year in Madrid improved her 60m time to 6.92sec. The double European champion needed no such effort to win yesterday's race in a modest 7.07sec, but that was far too quick for Stephanie Douglas and Paula Thomas, who were competing on home ground.