Christie may be back for Britain

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The Independent Online
Linford Christie, who pulled out of a meeting at Nuremberg on Thursday because of the death of his mother, may yet fill the 100 and 200 metres places for Britain at next weekend's Europa Cup competition, writes Mike Rowbottom.

Britain's team captain made a surprise return to racing on Saturday in the Southern Championships at Crystal Palace. He won his heat of the 100m in the time of 10.85sec, and although he then withdrew because of the effects of a toe injury, there were no indications that he would not compete in Lille. "I've heard nothing to suggest that Linford will not be there," Verona Elder, Britain's team manager, said.

Britain will today name a women's team captain in place of Sally Gunnell, whose season is now in doubt with injury. But there was brighter news overall at the weekend. The triple jumper, Jonathan Edwards, followed up his UK record-breaking leap of 17.58m at Loughborough with a victory in a meeting at Lille in 17.44m.

Kelly Holmes, the Commonwealth champion, won the 1500m there, while Katherine Merry returned after a knee injury to win the Midlands 100m title in Birmingham. "There were some very encouraging displays," Elder said. "We look to be getting into the right gear."

If Gunnell does make it to the world championships, she will not face the woman who took silver behind her at the Olympics and world championships, Sandra Farmer-Patrick. The American finished outside the three qualifying places at the US trials in Sacramento.

Christie's task in the 100m has also assumed a new dimension following the failures of Andre Cason, who took silver at the last world championships, Carl Lewis and the world record holder, Leroy Burrell, to qualify from the US championships. However, last year's grand prix champion, Dennis Mitchell, will be there to face him, having secured third place despite a recent hamstring injury.

The winner was Mike Marsh, the 1992 Olympic 200m champion, with newcomer Maurice Greene in second place. In the men's 400m, Michael Johnson, the world champion, produced the fourth fastest time in the event to secure his 41st consecutive one-lap victory.

Johnson, blazing down the final straight before easing up with 15m to go, clocked 43.66sec - a mere one-hundreth of a second off his personal best. In his wake was the world record holder, Butch Reynolds, who recorded 44.42, with the world indoor champion, Darnell Hall, clocking 44.55 in third place.

Johnson plans to run both 200 and 400m at the world championships, but he has decided that that the double will be too much to ask at next year's Olympics, despite adjustment of the timetable by the International Amateur Athletic Federation.

Johnson said he would only contemplate the double if he could complete the 400m final before starting the 200m preliminary rounds, which is not possible as things stand.

Colin Jackson lost his second 110m hurdles race within four days at Duisburg, Germany, last night. The world champion, whose defeat in Nuremberg on Thursday was his first at the event since August 1993, had to give way once again to the German who took European silver behind him last year, Florian Schwarthoff. The German won in 13.13 sec, with Mark McKoy, the Olympic champion, second in 13.21 and Jackson third in 13.29.

Jackson, who plans to run in the Europa Cup, remains upbeat. "Very soon I will be the same old me," he said.

Results, Sporting Digest, page 27