Edwards pulls out with a heel injury

Athletics
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The Independent Online
Jonathan Edwards, Britain's world triple jump champion, pulled out of the world championship trials here yesterday because of a bruised heel.

Edwards, who sustained the injury in Britain's European Cup win last month, is still training but has been advised by specialists not to risk the injury in competition.

But the Gateshead Harrier, who missed grand prix meetings in Lausanne and Oslo last week, has told the selectors he wants to be considered for next month's championships in Athens when they pick the team on Tuesday.

Athletes seeking selection are expected to compete in the trials unless they have a valid injury. "The heel is recovering slower than expected," the British Athletic Federation spokeswoman Jayne Pearce said. "Jonathan can train, but he is not fit for competitive activity this weekend.

"He and the specialists are monitoring the situation, but Jonathan has told us he wants to be considered for selection."

Edwards - who has now missed the last three British trials - had planned to compete on Monday in Salamanca, where he set his first world record two years ago. But yesterday he told the national performance director, Malcolm Arnold, that he would not be going there.

"Jonathan has given me that assurance," Arnold said. "If he tells me he is not fit I have no reason to think otherwise. I used to be a triple jumper myself, and I spent half my life tip-toeing around because this event hurts. You are taking six to eight times your body weight when you land."

Edwards, and other athletes who have been forced to withdraw from this weekend's event in the Alexander Stadium such as Roger Black, have until the final selection deadline of 22 July to prove fitness.

Black, who has had to miss the 400m because of a virus infection, has the possibility of racing in Hechtel - an hour's flight from Brussels - next Saturday in order to gauge his recovery. If the third, optional individual place is not still available to him, he will still be keen to qualify as part of the relay team.

"Our policy is to get the best possible team to the championships," Arnold said. He contrasted the British system - with the top two automatically qualifying assuming they have the world qualifying mark in their event and a third place remaining at the selectors' discretion - with that of the United States, where it is simply first three past the post.

"Their policy doesn't appear to get the best team to the championships," he said, referring to the large number of world champions - including Michael Johnson, Gail Devers and Dan O'Brien - who have failed to satisfy the US selectors.

The 100m heats finally convinced those who doubted that Linford Christie really meant what he said when he insisted he would not compete at this summer's world championships. He was not there; he plans to compete tomorrow in Stuttgart, where he won the 1993 world title.

But the two men whom Christie has coached to promising positions in the event, Darren Campbell and Ian Mackie, both qualified easily, though the latter revealed that he is being troubled by an Achilles tendon problem. Mackie, who eased up 15 metres from the line as he won in 10.60sec, said afterwards: "I've had the problem for a couple of months now. It is affecting my thinking as I get out of the blocks. I've been getting treatment for it, but it's a very busy time of the year and I haven't had a chance to rest it. I had the same problem last year."

Campbell also slowed as he finished first in 10.43, a place ahead of the Akinola Lashore, of Blackheath Harriers, who recorded a highly creditable 10.44 into a one and a half metre headwind.

The running events took place on a newly laid Alexander Stadium track, and marked the British debut for the super-sensitive Seiko starting system that first appeared in the Gothenburg world championships of 1995.

Meanwhile Richard Simmons, who is mobilising the campaign to keep athletics at Crystal Palace in the face of Bromley Council's redevelopment plans, is calling on the sport to take the opportunity of putting its case before final decisions are made. Bromley are inviting sports seeking to use the redeveloped facility to submit business plans which would also be considered by the English Sports Council.

"It is vitally important that athletics grabs this opportunity to make its case for the future of the sport at Crystal Palace," said Simmons, national coach for the South-East. "It has to happen in the next few weeks."

But he is heartened by the assurance given by Bromley and the Sports Council following recent meetings that all the options remain open. Bromley face a further problem as the indoor sports complex at Crystal Palace, which they had considered demolishing, is a listed building.

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