Among the 46,000 spectators inside the Olympic stadium for Thursday's Golden Gala grand prix in Rome was Don Quarrie, the revered Jamaican sprinter who took the Olympic 200m title in 1976. Quarrie, who now works as an athletes' agent, competed at the highest level well into his thirties, and could sympathise with the challenges now facing Linford Christie, who was beaten on the night over 100 and 200m.
"Linford has been injured and at 35 it takes longer to recover," Quarrie said. "When you get to that age it's a mental battle. He has done so much in his career that he needs a big occasion to get the best out of himself. He's like Carl Lewis in that respect.
"No one is sprinting well at the moment, and for him to run 10.15sec in his second 100 of the season is not exactly a disaster. I would put my shirt on him winning at the World Championships."
"Everything I do now is a stepping-stone towards Gothenburg," said Christie, who ran with strapping on a badly bruised toe. "It's just training. There is a lot of time until August but I'm coming along slowly. Apart from my foot, I'm in great shape."
Christie plans to run again on Thursday in Nuremberg, where Sally Gunnell intends to start her season after a delay caused by an Achilles tendon injury. Also present will be Colin Jackson, whose outdoor season got off according to plan with a testing 110m hurdles victory and a time - 13.18sec - that was exactly what he was looking for.
In contrast to Christie, who has chopped and changed his racing plans, Jackson has a set of races on his schedule that stand before him like so many hurdles on the way to Gothenburg. After Nuremberg come Duisberg, Madrid, Lille, Helsinki, Paris, Nice and Sestriere.
Moses Kiptanui, who won himself a thoroughbred horse as athlete of the meeting for lowering Haile Gebresilasie's 5,000m world record to 12min 55.30sec, said that he had planned the attempt with his fellow Kenyan Daniel Komen after watching Gebresilasie take the 10,000m record from their compatriot William Sigei on Monday. "I said to Daniel, 'we're going to break the 5,000 record. If I don't get it, then you break it'," Kiptanui said.
It was one of the finest 5,000m races in history, with three men finishing in less than 13 minutes. Komen, who finished with a world junior record of 12:56.12 after being outsprinted in the final 100m, did not realise he was on target for a world record. "I just tried to beat my personal best," he said.
Perhaps Kiptanui, who has now set records at 3,000m, 3,000m steeplechase and 5,000m, will take up the Sport of Kings next.Reuse content