Christie plays to the cameras

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The Independent Online


reports from Monte Carlo

A lot of leg weary, jaded but incorrigibly money-seeking athletes bring down the curtain on the European season here today in the IAAF/Mobil Grand Prix final. Not least among them are Linford Christie and Donovan Bailey, the Canadian who left the Briton prostrate on the track of this summer's 100 metres world championship.

Christie will undergo surgery for a cartilage problem but his victory in Rieti on Monday, following a dead heat with Jon Drummond at Crystal Palace, has encouraged him to believe that he can have at least one more season on the grand prix circuit. His race against Bailey and Drummond is not part of the grand prix final but was added at the request of Primo Nebiolo, the IAAF president, who was concerned the meeting was not exciting enough at a time when the sport is struggling to retain television interest and money. For the same reason he has asked Noureddine Morceli to run in an invitation 1500m.

A total of $2.24m (pounds 1.5m) is at stake today, with $100,000 each for the overall winners. Among those expected to come away a lot richer are Sonia O'Sullivan, Ireland's world champion who has a comfortable points lead in the 3,000m. Kelly Holmes will end a promising season again in an 800m pursuit of the intimidating Maria Mutola, of Mozambique. Colin Jackson, however, pulled out of the 110m hurdles with a cold.

The highlight of the meeting, though, could be Haile Gebrselassie's third attempt on the 3,000m world record.