Brown wins first berth for Atlanta

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The Independent Online

Jon Brown became the first British track athlete to book his place for Atlanta as he finished second in the 10,000 metres final at the combined Securicor AAA Championships and Olympic trials here last night.

The winner, Rob Denmark, did not earn selection as he, unlike Brown, has not got the Olympic qualifying time of 28min 20sec. It did not bother him. To general surprise, Denmark had entered merely as a warm-up for his main target of the 5,000m on Sunday.

Denmark, timed at 28:20.79, was seeking to replicate the demands of the Olympics where he will have to run heats and a final in the 5,000m. He is assuming, of course, that he will qualify all right on Sunday.

"Without sounding complacent, I don't think there's too much of a risk," the Commonwealth 5,000m champion said. "As long as I get in the top three, I should be OK."

With only two other runners in the 5,000 who have the Olympic standard - Jon Nuttall and Adrian Passey - Denmark now has the prospect of matching Dave Bedford's 1972 feat of a 5000 and 10,000 double at the AAA Championships.

Brown, timed at 28:21.40, said he was "amused" by Denmark's appearance. But the Sheffield runner, who is now based in Germany, criticised the other runners apart from Denmark and Evans for not making the race more of a competition. "This was the chance of a lifetime for someone to make the Olympic team. It seems like the guys in Britain just haven't got the balls to do it." As things stand, he will be the only Briton in the men's 10,000 at Atlanta, a situation he described as "pitiful".

Denmark's entry took all the other runners by surprise, and denied Paul Evans - who, like Denmark, is managed by John Bicourt - the second place which would have given him a choice of doing either 10,000m or the marathon in Atlanta. The British Athletic Federation has ruled that there can be no doubling up in these events, given the hot and humid conditions in Atlanta.

Evans, who was third in 28:28.31, will now presumably concentrate on the marathon, for which he has been selected following his third place in the London event in April. But he seemed a little bemused by Denmark's presence and performance.

The situation in the women's 10,000 is even worse. The final yesterday was won in 33:21.46 by Louise Watson - it was a personal best, but well outside the Olympic qualifying standard of 32:50.

With the only three to have achieved that standard out of contention - Yvonne Murray and Jill Hunter are injured, Liz McColgan is doing the marathon - there will, as expected, be no British woman 10,000m runner in Atlanta.

Linford Christie qualified without fuss for today's 100m semi-final, winning the first heat in 10.32sec. Of the other fancied sprinters, only Jason Gardener failed to progress. The 21-year-old from Bath, whose 60m win in 6.55 against Russia in February raised such high hopes, led after 30 metres but pulled up with a recurrence of sciatica.

The men's 400m heats also saw safe performances from the leading contenders, with Roger Black setting the fastest time with 46.05sec after easing down over the final 80 metres. Iwan Thomas, whose 44.66 at altitude is the quickest by a Briton this year, was equally easy in recording 46.14. Diane Modahl, seeking an Olympic place just three months after being finally exonerated of doping charges by the International Amateur Athletic Federation, took no risks in her 800m heat, leading from start to finish before winning in 2:05.82. Kelly Holmes, the world bronze medallist, also qualified easily in 2:06.86 before moving over to a group of madly straining autograph hunters who confirmed her status as one of Britain's star performers.