Edwards left rueful but in good heart

Athletics

Britain's new world record holder, Jonathan Edwards, experienced a familiar sensation at the Bupa International at the Don Valley Stadium, Sheffield, yesterday. Once again, he triple jumped over 18 metres. Once again, the following wind - illegally strong at 2.5 metres per second - denied him the effort for record purposes.

His initial reaction on surveying his mark in the sand at 18.08 was to leap up and punch the air. But within seconds the bad news was shouted out to him and he was holding his head in his hands while smiling ruefully. His fourth 18 metres jump within a month - and still he must content himself with the legal mark of 17.98 metres which he set in Salamanca on Tuesday.

If there was frustration for Edwards on the day, however, his overall emotion as he approaches next month's World Championships is one of excitement. It is an emotion that can be justifiably shared by several other British athletes.

Like Edwards, Linford Christie was also denied a world best by the wind. His time of 14.74sec in the rarely run 150 metres - inside Pietro Mennea's 12-year-old mark of 14.8sec - was rendered illegal by a reading of three metres per second.

But Christie will not worry about that. It was an impressive and timely run which left a high quality field trailing. Among his opponents was John Regis and Donovan Bailey, the Canadian who tops the season's 100m rankings with 9.91sec.

The wind could not frustrate two other British record-breaking performances. In a pole vault competition that took place in front of a couple of hundred spectators after the main meeting had finished, 22-year-old Nick Buckfield set a new mark of 5.70 metres.

Keith Stock's mark of 5.65 has thus been superseded after 14 years. And Buckfield, Britain's only representative in the event in Gothenburg, will travel in expectation as well as hope, having improved by 29 centimetres this season.

Kelly Holmes re-emphasised her claims in the 800 and 1500 metres with a British record of 2min 32.82sec in the 1,000 metres.

Steve Backley, one of a number of athletes whose status in the British World Championship team will shift from provisional to definite in an announcement today, presented a buoyant figure after winning the javelin with a throw of 86.30m.

The double European and Commonwealth champion has now established a consistency which has escaped him in past years, and his general fitness has been improved by the attentions of a South African medical expert, Dr Ron Holder, who has been working on improving the general balance of his body by placing support pads in strategic places within Backley's shoes.

The pads themselves, though carefully calculated in effect, consist of leaves of Yellow Pages directories taped together.

They also have been of assistance this season to Roger Black, another athlete being advised by Holder. But Black, who equalled his lifetime 400 metres best of 44.59sec earlier this month, was relatively depressed after a time of 45.54.

The prospects for Britain's middle distance performance in Gothenburg have been brightened by the recent form of Curtis Robb and John Mayock. Robb earned a bold 800 metres victory while Mayock held off Rob Denmark in a sprint finish to the 3,000 metres.

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