Edwards leaps to world record

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Athletics

MIKE ROWBOTTOM

Jonathan Edwards last night claimed what has been morally his for nearly a month when he set a new world triple jump record.

Competing at a meeting in Salamanca, he produced a second-round jump of 17.98 metres - one centimetre more than the mark which has stood to Willie Banks of the United States for the last 10 years and, crucially, with a legal wind reading.

Last month, Edwards produced the two biggest leaps the event has ever seen - 18.43m and 18.39 - at the European Cup, only for both to be discounted for record purposes because of a following wind of over two metres per second. On 2 July, he did it again, jumping 18.03 in front of his home crowd at Gateshead, but once more the wind denied him a record.

Last night, however, in the heat and humidity of Spain, and against a field that included the Olympic champion, Mike Conley, and Cuba's Yoelvis Quesada, Edwards rose to the challenge with fitting reward. Quesada got closest to him with 17.46.

Edwards' reaction after the jump was entirely predictable given his recent frustrations. "The first thing I did was look at the wind speed," he said. It was 1.8 metres per second.

"The day has been perfect and the Salamanca track is very fast," Edwards added. "Under these conditions I knew I could beat the record again. Technically [the jump] was not good. I started the run too far forward. Yesterday, while training, I made some good jumps and noticed the speed of the course. I thought it would be a great contest."

The one thing which was not so great for the 29-year-old vicar's son on the night was an unfortunate fourth jump. Having sat out the third round after setting the record, he then ran into the sand with a grimace, appearing to strain a leg muscle on the final step as he started his take- off.

The strength of the field had come as something of a surprise to him when he found out about it two days beforehand. He had entered what he expected to be a low profile meeting in order to test the ankle injury that cut short his performance at the Crystal Palace Grand Prix on 7 July and ruled him out of the national trials at the weekend.

Edwards' wife, Alison, hearing of the news at home in Newcastle, said her husband had felt he needed a break after Crystal Palace. "He felt his technique had got a little bit ragged in his last two competitions," she said. "He wanted to go out somewhere low key to get back into his rhythm."

A low-key world record then - and assuming there are no further injury worries there could hardly be a better recommendation to Britain's World Championship selectors, who granted Edwards a place on Monday provisional upon proof of fitness.

But other elite athletes have been angered by the position the selectors have put them in. Roger Black, one of 13 athletes including Edwards who have been given until next Wednesday to prove their fitness for a World Championship place, reacted indignantly to the situation.

"I feel personally offended and disgusted by this treatment," said Black, who equalled his 400 metres career best of 44.59sec two weeks ago but had to miss the trials because of a knee injury.

"What happens if I am advised not to run within the next week?" he added. "The championships are not until 4 August. I think it is wrong that athletes of our calibre are being given this deadline."

His stance was backed by the Commonwealth javelin champion, Steve Backley, who is in the same position. Backley, who missed the trials with an Achilles tendon problem, said: "I agree with Roger. We are all under enough pressure as it is, getting ready for the championships, without all this."

Results, Sporting Digest, page 23

EVOLUTION OF THE MEN'S TRIPLE JUMP WORLD RECORD SINCE 1960

Distance Name Date

17.03m J Schmidt (Pol) 05.08.60

17.10 G Gentile (It) 16.10.68

17.22 Gentile 17.10.68

17.23 V Saneyev (Rus) 17.10.68

17.27 N Prudencio (Bra) 17.10.68

17.39 Saneyev 17.10.68

17.40 P Perez (Cuba) 05.08.71

17.44 Saneyev 17.10.72

17.89 J C de Oliveira (Bra) 15.10.75

17.97 W Banks (US) 16.06.85

17.98 J Edwards (GB) 18.07.95

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