Christie bids farewell to the boards

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The Independent Online
Athletics

MIKE ROWBOTTOM

Linford Christie has written off his indoor season following the injury he sustained at the weekend's AAA indoor championships. If he sticks to his promise to make this his final year of sprinting, he will not be seen competing again on the boards.

The 35-year-old Olympic champion, who damaged an adductor muscle at the top of his left leg in the 60m final, will now concentrate on regaining fitness for a summer campaign which may or may not include a defence of his 100 metres title in Atlanta.

"Linford will not be doing any more indoor meetings," a spokesman from his management company, Nuff Respect, said yesterday. "He will be having treatment to get the injury fixed and then return to training."

Christie, who plans to visit medical specialist Dr Muller Wohlfarth in Munich this week, was due to race against the world indoor champion, Bruny Surin, in Saturday's Ricoh International at Birmingham.

"He is obviously frustrated because he came back from Australia in such excellent shape," the spokesman added. Christie won 100m races in Adelaide and Perth, recording 10.00sec.

Tony Ward, the British Athletic Federation spokesman, said: "It's disappointing, but the priority has to be his farewell summer season. We don't want anything to jeopardise that."

Meanwhile, Britain's Olympic marathon selectors have filled three of the six available places for Atlanta, naming Peter Whitehead, Richard Nerurkar and Liz McColgan after a three-hour meeting. The selectors employed four key criteria for Olympic selection: a sub 2hr 10min marathon (or 2.30 for women); an excellent performance in a debut; a good performance in hot and humid conditions such as will be experienced in Atlanta; and a top five place in a major championship.

Whitehead, fourth in last summer's world championships and Nerurkar, the 1993 World Cup winner who was seventh in Gothenburg, are both carrying injuries and have been told to show their fitness by competing in a half- marathon by 31 May.

The announcement has attracted criticism from Mel Batty, coach to the 1993 London Marathon champion, Eamonn Martin, who won the Chicago marathon last year. "Peter Whitehead has fulfilled the selectors' criteria and good luck to him, but to pick Richard Nerurkar too looks like favouritism to me," he said.

Batty stresses the fact that Martin has actually won major marathons he has entered. The selectors appear to have been swayed in Nerurkar's favour by his last two championship performances and the conditions in which they were achieved.

The world championships took place in extreme heat - 26C and over - although the humidity was not great - rising from 39 per cent to 43 per cent during the race. The previous year, however, at the European Championships in Helsinki, Nerurkar had shown his ability to run in extreme humidity - 84 per cent - in finishing fourth.

The remaining names will be announced after the London Marathon on 21 April, which could become a run-off for the third place given yesterday's announcement that Martin and Paul Evans, second in last November's New York Marathon, will take part, along with Gary Staines and Jon Solly. Steve Brace, runner-up in Houston last month, and Mark Hudspith, the Commonwealth Games bronze medallist, are also realistic contenders for a team place.

McColgan was disappointed with seventh place in her comeback marathon in Tokyo in November, but the selectors were satisfied with that and her place in last year's world championship 10,000m in hot conditions.

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