Christie keen to erase Olympic trauma

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The Independent Online
The grand prix meeting at Crystal Palace tomorrow offers Britain's returning Olympians their traditional opportunity for a "fly-past" - although in some cases the fliers will display the patched-up appearance of those recently under heavy enemy fire.

Linford Christie, making what is said to be his last appearance at Crystal Palace as retirement from international competition looms, will be anxious to leave his old haunt with some good memories after his traumatic experiences in the last fortnight.

Disqualified from the 100m final in Atlanta, knocked out of the 200m in the second round and prevented from taking part in the sprint relay after his colleagues dropped the baton, he will be seeking a solid performance at the Performance Games. As of yesterday, fewer than half of the 17,000 tickets had been sold, and Tony Ward, of the British Athletic Federation, was talking about the need to reduce domestic meetings next season from the current number of six to four.

Ward acknowledged that the absence of track and field gold medallists in Atlanta may have been partly to blame for the reduced interest. There is, nevertheless, the opportunity to see some of the Britons who came closest to gold in the Centennial Olympics, notably the 400m silver medalist Roger Black. He will run over 300m against his partners in the 400m relay team who also won silver, Iwan Thomas, Jamie Baulch and Mark Richardson.

Steve Backley, javelin silver medalist behind Jan Zelezny, will return to his backyard for what is only his fourth competition of the season. The women's javelin will feature Tessa Sanderson, an Olympic finalist at 40, who is taking part in what she insists is her very last competition.

Colin Jackson, beaten into fourth in the Olympic 110m hurdles, will have two chances in the space of two days to redress the balance of his season in meetings with the gold medallist Allen Johnson. Jackson is due to meet the American today in the Monte Carlo grand prix as well as at Crystal Palace.

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