Christie delays his quest for gold

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The Independent Online
Linford Christie, who pulled out of last night's grand prix meeting here as a precaution because of a sore hamstring, will next race on Wednesday, when he will run in the 100 metres at the Nice Grand Prix, writes Mike Rowbottom in Oslo.

Christie, beaten over 100 and 200 metres in Lausanne last Wednesday, flew back to Britain yesterday after receiving treatment at the Munich clinic of Dr Hans-Muller Wolfhardt.

The Olympic 100m champion, who announced last week that he will be defending his title, is clearly feeling the strain of five races in six days, having competed at Paris and Gateshead before his competition in Switzerland. In making the decision, Christie has been obliged to forgo seeking the pounds 85,000 worth of gold bars on offer to winners at all of the self-styled Golden Four events - Oslo, Zurich, Brussels and Berlin. But that possibility will be a small price to pay if he can regain top fitness for the Olympics.

He knows there is still a large gap to make up on his sometime training partner Frankie Fredericks, who ran within 0.01sec of the 100m world record in Lausanne, a performance all the more remarkable for the fact that it was achieved in a headwind of 0.4 metres per second.

Before setting off for the Games, Christie is due to run in the Crystal Palace Grand Prix on Friday night. But the world 200 and 400m champion, Michael Johnson, will not, after his disagreement with the British Athletic Federation over their refusal to let him run the one-lap event in London. Johnson, who has turned down the offer of running the 200m at Crystal Palace because it does not suit his racing plan, is reportedly ready to sue the BAF for breach of contract.

The BAF spokesman, Tony Ward, said yesterday that no writ had been received. "There was a considerable amount of faxes and proposals going back and forth between ourselves and Brad Hunt's group of athletes," Ward said. "But we did not have contract with them."

Meanwhile Britain's other Olympic champion, Sally Gunnell, is putting her feet up on doctor's orders after the injury scare which forced her to pull up half-way through her 400m hurdles race in Lausanne. Her emergency treatment by Roland Biedert, who operated on her right heel to remove a bone spur before Christmas last year, consisted of an experimental homeopathic injection into her left heel which consisted, among other things, of ant poison.

Dr Biedert, who has also treated athletes such as Roger Black, Noureddine Morceli, Christie and Irina Privalova at his clinic in the Swiss Alps, said he had never used the treatment on an elite performer but that it had been effective in 90 per cent of local cases.

"She has a good chance she can compete in Atlanta but it is not a 100 per cent chance," Biedert said.

Gunnell was relieved to learn that she would not require a further operation, but she faces a nervous week. She will only start light running after the weekend, and will not go to Atlanta until she has done some effective hurdling work in training. "If I thought I was only going to make up the numbers, I would probably not bother," she said.