Christie rejects Olympic return

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The Independent Online

Linford Christie reiterated his intention not to defend his Olympic 100 metres title in Atlanta next year after pulling away over the final 20 metres to win the event at the Rieti meeting in Italy yesterday.

The British runner clocked 10.20sec under a steady downpour that forced cancellation of the men's pole vault and slowed times. The Australian Damien Marsh was second in 10.27.

After the race, Christie told Italian television that he was likely to miss the Olympics. "I probably will not be competing in Atlanta," he said. "I think I'll not be there. I took some sweet revenge after the World Championships. I have nothing to show at 35, except that athletics can be fun."

Britain's triple jump world record holder, Jonathan Edwards, won with a leap of 17.29m, well short of his world mark of 18.29, set in Gothenburg.

Another world champion, Michael Johnson, was among those turning in impressive performances, winning the 200m in 20.09, the year's third-best time. "It's a fast track and I could have clocked a faster time, but the weather was too bad," he said.

The highlight of the evening was an attempt on his own 3,000m record by Noureddine Morceli, awarded honourary citizenship of Rieti last year after twice setting world bests here. The rain subsided as the Algerian, with his brother Ali pace making, set off at a record-breaking pace. Morceli hit 1,000m on target and was four seconds inside his record time at 2,000m, but he finished well outside his record of 7min 25.11sec in 7:29.36, still the third fastest this season.

In other events, Kenya's Moses Kiptanui won the men's two miles and Sonia O'Sullivan, of Ireland, won the women's mile. The new world champion, Anna Quirot, of Cuba, was beaten in the 800m by Jearl Miles, of the United States, who ran 2:00.86 to Quirot's 2:01.61.

Jamaica's Winthrop Graham cruised to victory in the men's 400m hurdles in 48.50, more than a quarter of a second quicker than the runner-up, Samuel Matete, of Zambia. Russia's Irina Privalova captured the women's 200m in 22.84, while Tatjana Kurochkina, of Belarus, won the women's 400m hurdles in 55.12.

The meeting drew a field of 17 newly-crowned world champions, many of them determined to show support for possibly the last meeting in the central Italian town. The organiser, Sandro Giovannelli, said the lack of sponsorship and increased costs of attracting a top field is likely to mean the 25th meeting will be the last.