Christie lifts Fredericks into form

Athletics
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The Independent Online
Linford Christie received the credit after Frankie Fredericks produced an electrifying performance to win the 100 metres at the Japan Grand Prix in Osaka. The Namibian's time, 10.09sec, in what was his first competitive outdoor 100m of the season, served a warning to Christie that he will be the man to beat in the Olympics in Atlanta in July.

Fredericks, who set a world 200m indoor record earlier this year, attributed his good early form to training with Christie in Australia and Florida this year. "When you are training with someone like Linford, you are bound to get better," Fredericks said.

The 28-year-old edged out Dennis Mitchell of the United States and appeared to be easing up at the finish, but rejected suggestions that he should be considered favourite for the Olympic 100m so far in advance of the competition.

"This year is going to be real tough. The Americans are going to be on their home turf, and they will give everything they have," he said.

Fredericks, who won silver medals at the Barcelona Olympics in the 100m, when second to Christie in a time of 10.02sec, and 200m, when second to Mike Marsh, said he did not want to carry around the weight of some people's expectations that he could go one better at Atlanta and win gold in both the events.

One athlete used to the burden of expectation - and accustomed to fulfilling or even surpassing predictions - Noureddine Morceli, was forced to run the last lap of his one mile event alone because of the lack of serious competition.

Morceli, the world record holder at a mile, 1500m and 3,000m, won the event in 3min 51.30sec. The Algerian finished more than six seconds ahead of Paul McMullen, of the United States, and Abdellah Abdelhak, of Morocco.

"It was my first competitive run for eight months and I was delighted at how it went," Morceli said. Such is the range of his talent that he has still not decided which events to compete in at Atlanta.

The meeting's two other world-record holders, Bulgaria's high jumper Stefka Kostadinova and the Czech Republic's javelin thrower Jan Zelezny, hardly met a serious challenge either.

Kostadinova won her event with a leap of 1.96m, failing for the second meeting in a row to clear the two-metre barrier.

Zelezny managed to throw over 90.6 metres, although he was not satisfied with his winning performance. "I had some technical problems. My legs did not move as I wanted," he said.

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