Linford Christie, who has been struggling to recover from hamstring and knee injuries since relinquishing his world 100 metres title, yesterday made the surprise announcement that he would compete in Zurich tonight at the most lucrative and prestigious of the season's grand prix meetings.
"I'm running," said the 35-year-old Olympic champion after receiving intensive treatment from a specialist. The Briton now has the chance to take on the man who has inherited his world title last week, Donovan Bailey of Canada.
Christie had trained earlier in the day at Zurich's Letzigrund stadium, when he looked in good form. His attempt to defend his 100m title in Gothenburg was undermined by an injury to his left leg, for which he had received special treatment in the preceding week. He finished out of the medals in the final after being affected by the injury in the semi-finals, and was unable to take part in the 200m and the sprint relay.
Christie said earlier this week he would leave a decision about competing in Zurich until the last minute. He was diagnosed as having a torn hamstring, and, more worryingly than that, a problem with the cartilage in his knee.
Given that information, it was hardly surprising that he was talking about making a slow and cautious recovery last week, virtually ruling Zurich out of the reckoning.
That he has apparently recovered so swiftly is a testament to his will power, and his conviction that the defeat in Gothenburg did not reflect his true standing. Paradoxically, although his body appears to be breaking under the cumulative strain of 10 years at the top, he himself feels sharp and fit. The self-belief is still there. And, of course, in what he has announced as his last season, Zurich provides an opportunity to earn money that is unrivalled.
Zurich preview, page 23