Athletics: Aldama delights crowd with triple jump record

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The Independent Online

She lives in London. She competes for Shaftesbury Barnet Harriers. And she heads the world rankings. Sadly, for her and for British athletics, Yamile Aldama will not be going for gold when the World Championships get underway in Paris a fortnight today.

It was an unfortunate state of affairs that hung with heavy irony in the Crystal Palace air last night as the native Cuban produced another performance to strengthen her position as world No 1 - a lofty perch no British athlete occupies in a track and field event with the World Championships rapidly approaching. To the delight of the 18,500 sell-out crowd, the adopted Londoner produced the longest triple jump by a woman on British soil, not once but twice.

Jumping 15.12 metres in the second round and 15.27m in the sixth, Aldama claimed two UK all-comers' records to add to the 15.29m performance with which she has led the world rankings since the Golden League meeting in Rome on 11 July. The 30-year-old will not be in Paris, though, because she has no country for which to compete.

In stark contrast to Zola Budd, who was granted British citizenship in record time in 1984, Aldama is being forced to play a protracted waiting game in her quest for a British passport. She has lived in Limehouse since November 2001, but has been told she will not qualify for a British passport until November 2004 - unless the Home Office can be persuaded to fast-track her application.

"I have put Paris out of my mind completely," she said last night. "I am just setting all of my goals for next year."

More happily for Britain, Carl Myerscough has his sights on Paris - and on a place on the medal rostrum. The 6ft 10in Blackpudlian emerged victorious from the shot putt competition with a throw of 21.50m, beating the world indoor champion Maneul Martinez in the process. "This was a great competition to win," he said. "There were some great scalps here and it was the right time to beat them, coming up to Paris."

Christian Malcolm will also be heading for the Stade de France in buoyant mood, the young Welshman having flown to victory in the 200m in 20.25sec. And Natasha Danvers made an encouraging return after injury, finishing runner-up to American Sandra Glover in the 400m hurdles.

The Palace crowd were also pleased to see that venerable British athletics institution, the Emsley Carr Mile, in such rude health. The 50th anniversary race was one to savour, Paul Korir kicking to victory ahead of his Kenyan compatriots Cornelius and William Chirchir in 3min 48.17sec.

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