Christie takes it too easy

Sprint finish livens up the 150m while Modahl and Sanderson press their Olympic claims

Linford Christie's generous decision to turn out unpaid at the Welsh Games organised by his friend Colin Jackson yesterday came within a fraction of becoming an expensive dent in his prestige when Owusu Dako of Sale Harriers finished in exactly the same time for the 150 metres.

As holder of the world best time of 14.97 seconds for this curious distance, Christie was confidently expected to have an exhibition run. However, though he appeared to be in control from the start, as the race unwound Dako sensed that the great man was looking a little too easy-going. As it was Christie realised the danger and crossed the line a fraction ahead in distance but not even a fraction superior in time. They were both given 15.50 seconds.

Christie continues to keep a greater distance between himself and the British press than he usually does between himself and any British rival. Dako got closer than most only because the Olympic champion admitted that he was "easing up" towards the end of what is a rarely run distance.

Christie's fast start on the bend gave the impression that he was going to stroll to victory, but Dako, a training partner, began to inch back over the final 50 metres. "It was only because I was easing down that it looked closer than it was," Christie said.

He remains typically secretive about his long-term intentions. "I'm feeling very strong. I'll go to Nuremberg on 7 June but after that my plans are not very advanced. After Nuremberg, God knows."

However the organisers of the inter-county championships in Bedford today may find that Christie is a late entry - he does that sort of thing.

So far this season Christie has run 10.20 seconds for 100 metres in Arnsberg, representing the fastest time he has ever recorded so early in the year. And though yesterday's race over the longer distance gave him a slight surprise, he looks as formidable as ever - especially to anyone trying to ask about the Olympic Games.

Diane Modahl's determination to force the British selectors to recognise her claims by returning to the international team after the struggle against a drugs ban was fortified with a solid 600 metres win in 1min 28.40sec.

She was furious at being omitted from the Europa Cup team announced in midweek and took out her irritation with a gutsy performance that came within sight of beating her own United Kingdom best time of 1min 26.18sec set in 1987. After being paced to 400 metres by Louise Whitehead, she took a 30-metre advantage over her nearest follower and still looked powerful as she won.

Tessa Sanderson's extraordinary return to competition at the age of 40, after not throwing a javelin for four years, gained further credibility yesterday when she again surpassed the Olympic qualifying distance of 60 metres. One throw reached 60.60 and though the other two were less strong, she is clearly going to win an Olympic place.

There was also encouraging form from the meeting's part-time promoter, Jackson, who won the 110 metres hurdles in 13.26 sec, but the absence of the Olympic champion, Mark McKoy, who pulled out the night before, obviously meant that he was not stretched.

Britain's strength in the 400 metres was admirably confirmed when Jamie Baulch, coached by Jackson, showed that his winter's warm-weather training in South Africa had sharpened his finishing speed. Despite the stiff breeze, he recorded a creditable 46.09 sec.

lJan Zelezny, of the Czech Republic, beat his own javelin world record by nearly three metres at an international meeting in Germany yesterday. Zelezny, 29, threw 98.48 metres to overhaul his previous record of 95.66 metres, set at Don Valley Stadium in August 1993. It was the third time since 1992 that Zelezny has broken the record.

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