reports from Crystal Palace
Jonathan Edwards, with the very last leap in the triple jump competition, came up with a fitting reward for the faithful British public which turned out in force at Crystal Palace yesterday for the McDonald's Games, the final domestic meeting of the turbulent season.
Edwards, locally born but now a happily adopted Geordie, finally managed 18 metres exactly on home territory, after being denied by the wind earlier in the summer, at Gateshead and at Sheffield. The first two 18-metre plus jumps in history had won Edwards the World Championship in Gothenburg, but this must have been almost as satisfying. Edwards himself described it as one of his best performances of the season.
"I never thought I'd jump 18 metres," Edwards said. "I was very tired. It was really quite unnerving, the pressure of being world champion. I thought I'd be able to relax and enjoy it, but there was so much tension."
That tension was etched taught in his face an hour after the competition had ended. "I'm amazed," he said, "but then the whole thing has been amazing." While Edwards has provided the moments to remember in a season racked by financial wrangling and protracted drug allegations, Linford Christie has unfortunately been at the centre of most of the controversy. Yesterday, however, the Olympic champion duly turned out and refused to finish his season with a defeat.
Christie beat Canada's Donovan Bailey, his successor as world champion, for the third time in as many races but he was unable to vanquish Jon Drummond of the United States and the pair dead heated in a time of 10.11sec.
Kelly Holmes, a double medallist in Gothenburg, raced to an emphatic victory in the women's 800m over Russia's Tatyana Grigoryeva in a time 2 min 00.78sec, and afterwards revealed her plans to take part in this year's Gladiators Christmas Special on ITV. When asked if she had thought of a name yet, she replied: "My mum calls me Dynamo - but everyone else calls me Nightmare." Take your pick.
Sonia O'Sullivan, the world 5,000m champion, came face to face again with Scotland's Yvonne Murray over 3,000m this time, and once more the Irish woman proved too powerful. After Murray had taken the lead at the bell, O'Sullivan eased past her to finish 20 metres clear in majestic fashion.
In the men's 110m hurdles, the American Allen Johnson was again too fast for both Colin Jackson and Tony Jarrett, Jarrett, nevertheless, taking some satisfaction from beating Jackson for the first time in 31 races.
Steve Backley finished well down the field in a javelin competition that was dominated by the world record holder and world champion, Jan Zelezny, who won with a throw of 92.12m.
The two men's quarter-mile races were all stars and stripes, with Derek Mills winning the flat ahead of Britain's Roger Black and Mark Richardson and Danny Harris nosing ahead of the world champion, Derrick Adkins, over the low hurdles.
The Emsley Carr Mile is one of the oldest races on the British calendar and traditionally one in which Britain has a fair chance of victory. Tradition, though, has taken a hop, step and jump and instead it was Burundi's rising talent, Venuste Niyongabo, who won the final event of the meeting in 3 min 49.80 sec, a record for the race.
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