Defeated Christie remains relaxed

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Two defeats in the space of three days is hardly a familiar experience for Linford Christie, but Britain's world and Olympic champion appeared genuinely relaxed about life at a rainswept Crystal Palace on Saturday after Solomon Wariso's strong finish left the indoor world-record holder contemplating successive defeats at 200 metres.

Wariso finished in 20.77, with Christie, who is still troubled by a bruised toe, 0.10sec behind him. Earlier, on what was a miserably grey afternoon for the season's second Division One meeting in the Guardian Insurance British League, Christie had beaten Wariso comfortably over 100m, recording 10.45 into a headwind of 1.5m per second. His contributions helped Thames Valley Harriers win the match and take the League leadership.

Sterner opposition awaits Christie in this week's Rome grand prix, where he plans to run another 200m. Among his opponents is likely to be John Regis, who had his first domestic run-out for the Belgrave Harriers sprint relay team on Saturday.

Other internationals who made an impact at Crystal Palace included the 21-year-old Commonwealth pole-vault champion Neil Winter, who cleared 5.40m - impressive in the conditions, and just 10cm short of the world championship qualifying mark - Colin Mackenzie, who won the javelin with 79.90m, while Dalton Grant took the high jump with 2.10m. Gary Jennings, the 23-year-old from Newham and Essex Beagles, underlined his potential in the 400m hurdles with a win in 50.30sec.

Noureddine Morceli, who ran the world's fastest 1500m this year in Seville on Saturday, believes he is close to breaking his world record for the distance. Morceli won in 3min 32.99sec - some way off his best of 3:28.86. "I was suffering from jet lag, but for my first race of the season I'm very pleased," he said. "I feel as if the world record could be broken very soon."

The British Athletic Federation has decided against lifting a century- old ban on betting. A meeting of the federation's council threw out a controversial plan to allow bookmakers to operate at major domestic meetings.

Discussions had been held about the possibility of an agreement with bookmakers William Hill. The proposal would have involved meetings at Crystal Palace, Birmingham, Gateshead and Sheffield.

However, members were concerned that it could lead to opportunities for abuse within the sport, and it angered many traditionalists who insisted that no thought had been given to long-term consequences. Sir Arthur Gold, life president of the European Athletic Association, was among those speaking against the idea on Saturday.

The Council also upheld the Federation's intention to argue against the reduction of suspension for serious drug abuse from four to two years at the International Amateur Athletic Federation congress in August.

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