Forgotten men carry British title hopes

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The Independent Online

Domestic hopes of taking the men's British Open title in Cardiff this week rest with two players who have both made courageous returns from serious illness.

The last time the title was kept in the United Kingdom was when Jonah Barrington won in 1973, and with Jansher Khan returning to defend his crown, the odds are on it going abroad again.

But Simon Parke, the Nottingham-based Yorkshireman who was out for nearly a year after surgery and chemotherapy for testicular cancer, was close to his best form again with a spirited victory over Egypt's Ahmed Barada in Saturday's third place play-off of the Super Series finals.

Seeded fourth, Parke has a tough opening round match against Australia's Dan Jenson, and if he progresses, a possible semi-final against Jansher.

Peter Marshall, the uniquely double-handed former world No 2 from Nottingham, has gained the wild card entry at Cardiff after two years out of the game with chronic fatigue syndrome.

In today's first round at the Welsh Institute of Sport, Marshall faces the Australian eighth seed Brett Martin, the last man he defeated in major competition. That was when Marshall won a 1995 semi-final to reach the British Open final against Jansher - a match in which his condition first became obvious to the outside world.

"I had been worried by increasing tiredness for some time before that and I have taken a careful route back to fitness with training in Nottingham, a few challenges and some league play," said Marshall. "Now we will see what tournament conditions will do."

Jansher starts his pursuit of a sixth successive British Open title against the Irish champion, Derek Ryan tomorrow. Peter Nicol, of Scotland, will be aiming to break his British Open first-round jinx to progress to a semi-final crack at the second seed, Rodney Eyles, of Australia.

The women's championship has been reduced by the withdrawal of the England No 1 and third seed Cassie Jackman, of Norfolk, with ankle injuries. Home hopes in the women's tournament now rest largely on fourth seed British National champion, Sue Wright of Kent.

n England retained the European Junior team title in Helsinki yesterday, beating Spain 3-0 in the semi-finals and Germany 3-0 in the final.