Christie and Jackson go back to work

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The Independent Online
British athletics resumes its high profile in Birmingham this weekend as several of its elite performers return to domestic action after their recent pay dispute.

Linford Christie, Colin Jackson and John Regis, who have now settled their financial differences with the British Athletic Federation, were always down to compete at the KP National Championships and trials. They, like every British athlete, are obliged to take part in at least one event - injury or illness permitting - to qualify for a place at next month's World Championships in Gothenburg.

Christie, who will travel on with Jackson to a meeting in Padua tomorrow, seeks a record eighth AAA 100 metres title. Jackson, struggling for form at his world record distance of 110m hurdles after his recent bout of tonsillitis, also runs the 100m.

While qualification is a relative certainty for Britain's world champions, there are many other talented athletes for whom these championships represent a tense, tactical battle.

The 400m is a typically complex area. Roger Black, who recently equalled his lifetime best of 44.59sec, had decided against his plan of running a 200m to rest the knee which has troubled him throughout the season and caused him to miss Gateshead.

Also absent, with the hamstring injury which caused him to pull out half- way through that Gateshead 400m, is Du'Aine Ladejo. His form this season has been unconvincing - but he is the European champion.

It would be very hard for the selectors to leave either of these men out. Which would appear to leave just one place open - for the winner of the event. In those circumstances, even though he won the European Cup in style last month, Mark Richardson could not afford to stay out of action any longer with the minor injury he has been nursing.

Even though Iwan Thomas, who is only one place behind Richardson in the season's British rankings, dropped out with injury yesterday, there remains the threat of Adrian Patrick, who has run 45.63 this season, and David Grindley, still far from fit after a longstanding Achilles tendon injury but not to be discounted.

The 100m is set to be a similarly intriguing struggle. There are a number of talented runners behind Christie in this season's British rankings who, in theory, are all within a metre of each other: Darren Braithwaite, Jason John, Mike Rosswess, Julian Golding, Toby Box, Jason Gardener and Darren Campbell.

Regis is likely to choose the 100m too, in preference to his specialist event of 200m, especially given his highly satisfactory run in Nice on Wednesday. Jackson, seeking to better his own Welsh record of 10.29, will need to be in top form to reach the final.

Jackson's absence from the 110m hurdles, and that of Tony Jarrett, who runs the 200m, offers either Andy Tulloch, who came second in the European Cup as a late replacement, or Neil Owen a glimpse of Gothenburg.

Kelly Holmes has been prevented from seeking a double at 800 and 1500m but her 800m will still be worth watching. The men's 800m also looks interesting, as Curtis Robb attempts to return to his No 1 position against a field including Martin Steele, Tom McKean, the European Cup representative Craig Winrow, and the 1993 world indoor 1500m champion, David Strang.