Edwards' record leap

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reports from Loughborough

Jonathan Edwards, who once refused to compete on Sundays because of his religious beliefs, produced the performance of his life here yesterday to break Keith Connors' 13-year-old British triple jump record.

The 29-year-old Gateshead Harrier taking part as a guest in his first competition of the season recorded 17.58m on his third jump to surpass by 1cm the record Connors set at high altitude in Utah.

The effort by Edwards, whose previous best was 17.44, came as a "total surprise" to the man himself. "I never expected to jump like that in my first competition," Edwards, whose sole intention had been to secure a place in Britain's European Cup team which is being announced today, said. "I always felt I would get the record but you have got to keep in mind that it was a good record."

Edwards, who opened with 17.01, has altered his arm action after studying video tapes of the Olympic and world champion, Mike Conley. His new technical coach, Peter Stanley, said he was running faster than ever - recently clocking 6.48sec for 60m after a rolling start.

"With the exception of the 1987 world championships, that jump was good enough to win a medal at any major championship," Edwards said.

Gary Staines took a large step towards the major championship in Gothenburg this summer by winning the AAAs 10,000m title. His time of 28min 49.31sec was outside the world championship qualifying mark of 28:20, so he will now look for a faster race probably in London or Paris.

But Staines was happy enough after seeing off the challenge of Andrew Pearson a top-20 finisher in this year's world cross-country championships and John Solly the 1986 Commonwealth champion. "The time never came into it," Staines said "All I wanted to do was finish first."

Had he achieved the qualifying time as well, he said there would have been no problem in running the European Cup, as the selectors requested following Paul Evans' withdrawal.

Edwards was not the only record breaker at the meeting. Linda Stanton a 21-year-old from Rotherham took the outdoor British and Commonwealth pole vault mark from Kate Staples for the first time in three years with a vault of 3.72m.

"I didn't think I would go that high because I didn't have Kate to compete against," Stanton, whose previous best was 3.40, said.

Staples, the television Gladiator who set a new outdoor mark of 3.70 at Bedford on Saturday, is flying out this week to join the training camp of the men's world record holder, Sergei Bubka.