Edwards leaps to season's best

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The Independent Online
Jonathan Edwards, Britain's world record holder, jumped a season's best 17.82 metres to comfortably win the triple jump at the Helsinki international meeting last night, where Frankie Fredericks of Namibia ran the fastest 100 metres of the year in 9.87sec.

Edwards's mark was some way short of his world record of 18.29m set at last year's World Championships, but he was clearly pleased.

"I'm getting there," he said. "I'm very happy with the jump - the timing and rhythm are not quite there yet, but there was a bit of spark in it which there hasn't been up until now."

Edwards, who missed the British Olympic trials and had taken three weeks off competition to rest heel and knee niggles, said he now felt in good shape. "This was always going to be a test for what shape I was in, and all things considered, it was a very good performance." His selection for Atlanta now seems certain.

"I was excited about packing and getting on the plane here and that's always a good sign," said the 30-year-old Gateshead Harrier. "Even though there were a lot of things going through my mind, I was looking forward to the competition.

"Obviously the main battles are still to come. But I felt nice and relaxed and 18 metres didn't feel a million miles away. It was very encouraging."

A snapped lace forced Edwards to sit out the third round and, after a sloppy fourth attempt, he missed the final two rounds. But he was never in danger of surrendering the lead, with the second-placed Norwegian Sigurd Njerve way back with 17.01m.

Fredericks, meanwhile, mis- sed by two hundredths of a second Leroy Burrell's world record of 9.85 set in Lausanne two years ago. Fredericks was helped by a following wind of 1.9 metres per second, just inside the legal limit of 2.0mps.

"It's the best I've run and I'm tremendously happy," he said. "It was cold, but I reacted well. I ran a good race. Now I know what I'm capable of running."

He beat Britain's Darren Braithwaite, who clocked 10.13 and pushed Canada's world champion, Donovan Bailey, into third in 10.15. Fredericks, quickly away and never headed, came home about five metres clear of Braithwaite.

The winning time was 0.05sec faster than the 9.92 of Trinidad's Ato Boldon and the American Dennis Mitchell set earlier this month. Until yesterday they were the season's best legal marks.

Kelly Holmes scored an impressive 800m win in 1:58.53, Iwan Thomas edged out fellow Briton Du'aine Ladejo in 45.14 in the men's 400m, Tony Jarrett won the high hurdles in 13.48 and Debbie Marti won the high jump with 1.92.

The world record holder, Fernanda Ribeiro of Portugal, clocked the fourth- fastest time of the season to win the women's 5,000m in 14:52.66, in front of Finland's Annemari Sandell.