Athletics: British weaknesses highlighted by Gay's surge to 200m record

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A sell-out crowd of 18,000 athletics followers at the British Grand Prix received their expected treats in swelteringly good sprinting weather here last night as the joint world 100m record holder Asafa Powell produced another imperious victory and Tyson Gay beat Michael Johnson's 16-year-old All Comers' record in the 200 metres, holding off the challenge of the prodigiously talented newcomer Xavier Carter to win in 19.84sec. But there were precious few hopeful indicators of home success in the European Championships that start a week on Monday.

While Powell won as he pleased in 9.91sec - his ninth consecutive sub-10sec clocking this season - the selectors making their final choices for Gothenburg this weekend will labour to find too many reasons to be cheerful about a meeting which saw just one British winner in the senior events. And that was a British relay team defeating four other domestic combinations and one international select.

The performances of Rebecca Lyne, second to Kenya's Commonwealth 800m champion Janet Kipkosgei in 1min 58.69sec, and Nicola Sanders, fourth in a high quality 400m race in a personal best of 50.68sec were heartening enough. And Tim Benjamin consolidated his return from injury with a season's best of 45.38sec in a 400m won by Olympic champion Jeremy Wariner in 43.99.

But these were all-too-rare glimpses of domestic brightness, and nowhere was Britain's weakness more evident than in the sprints, where Marlon Devonish was the top finisher in the 200m - sixth in a relatively modest 20.85sec - and also produced the best home performance in the 100 metres, with 10.37sec in the heats and getting nowhere near the final.

With Dwain Chambers out of the running in the 100m because of his thigh injury - although apparently not without hope of being named when selectors finalise their team on Tuesday - there was an opportunity for another home sprinter to make a name for themselves. No one did.

Powell, whose last appearance in Britain - at Gateshead on 11 June - saw him equal his world record of 9.77sec, said afterwards that he had not felt another record was likely.

"I didn't feel I could go for it tonight because the wind was changing," he said. Perhaps the presence of the other joint world record holder, Olympic champion Justin Gatlin, might have altered his opinion but a knee injury prevented the American competing and may mean the pair do not line up against each other this season.

The pre-race attention for the 200 metres had centred on Carter, who ran 19.63sec - the second fastest time ever - in winning the Lausanne Grand Prix earlier this month. But the "X-man" had to give best on this occasion to the "G-man" as he was beaten by the fellow American who had finished second to him in Switzerland in 19.70sec. The 23-year-old University of Arkansas marketing student had established a clear lead at the halfway point which Carter could not cut.

"I turned the tables on Xavier," said Gay, who won a bronze at last year's World Championships. "It's nice to have someone to keep the pressure off me. It's nice to stay sharp with races like this because there is no big focus for me this year. Good luck, Xavier. But I'm still around."

Carter, a 20-year-old sports medicine student from Louisiana State University, is still building on the reputation he has established in such dramatic fashion in the space of the last month, during which time he has equalled Jesse Owens's 70-year-old record of winning four titles at the US national collegiate championships and followed up with his performance in Lausanne.

Carter's time of 19.98sec was hardly slouching, but he wasn't pleased. "I didn't run my race today," he said. "I ran a race to suit other people, not me. Obviously I'm disappointed, but this is just one race. I'll be back - don't have any worries about that."

Marion Jones, winner of five medals at the 2000 Olympics, also promised she would be back after three years of disruption caused by giving birth to a son, injuries and a constant swirl of rumours - although none proven - of doping. At 30, she has proved to be as good as her word as she has recovered sufficiently for her to reach sub-11 second territory once again. The rumours, however, show no signs of abating.

Jones now finds her reputation implicated in new allegations made about her former coach, Trevor Graham. The latest leaked evidence of testimony given to the Grand Jury enquiry into the BALCO doping scandal has revealed that one of Graham's former assistants, Angel Guillermo Heredia, has accused the coach of providing steroids, human growth hormone and EPO to a group of his athletes. They were said to include Jones and the father of her child, former world 100m record holder Tim Montgomery, who is currently serving a doping ban.

Heredia claimed he was the main supplier of performance enhancing drugs to Graham's group between 1996 and 2000, and added that Graham strongly encouraged his athletes to take such substances.

After finishing second to the current world No 1 Sherone Simpson, who ran 11.0sec to her 11.05, Jones brushed off the latest allegations. "People are going to say what they are going to say, but I'm running as fast now as I was before I had my baby in 2003. They all must have their motives but I can't spend too much time worrying about what they are saying."

Christine Ohuruogu showed how much her Achilles' tendon problems have hampered her as she laboured home last in 52.43sec in a race won by the world No 1, Sanya Richards, in 49.05.

Jade Johnson looks certain to miss the Championships where she won long jump silver four years ago, having failed to reach the qualifying 6.65 metres mark.

Results from Crystal Palace

IAAF Norwich Union London Grand Prix (Crystal Palace) Leading results:


100m: Heat One: 1 F Obikwelu (Por) 10.14sec; 2 S Crawford (US) 10.17; 3 D Thomas (Jam) 10.20. Selected: 5 T Edgar (GB) 10.43; 7 C Pickering (GB) 10.46; 8 S Williamson (GB) 10.71. Heat Two: 1 A Powell (Jam) 10.12; 2 L Scott (US) 10.18; 3 M Brunson (US) 10.18. Selected: 5 M Devonish (GB) 10.37; 6 M Lewis-Francis (GB) 10.39; 7 M Findlay (GB) 10.55; 8 J Ellington (GB) 10.61. Final: 1 A Powell (Jam) 9.91; 2 L Scott (US) 10.01; 3 S Crawford (US) 10.04.

200m: 1 T Gay (US) 19.84; 2 X Carter (US) 19.98; 3 W Spearmon (US) 20.11. Selected: 6 M Devonish (GB) 20.85; 7 T Abeyie (GB) 20.99; 8 R Fifton (GB) 21.02.

400m: 1 J Wariner (US) 43.99; 2 A Rock (US) 44.81; 3 M Blackwood (Jam) 45.14. Selected: 6 T Benjamin (GB) 45.38; 7 M Rooney (GB) 45.67; 8 R Tobin (GB) 45.90.

1500m: 1 S Gallardo (Sp) 3min 38.56sec; 2 R Silva (Por) 3:38.75; 3 M Farah (GB) 3:39.02. Selected: 4 A Baddeley (GB) 3:39.96; 5 J Nolan (Irl) 3:40.43; 6 N McCormick (GB) 3:40.47; 7 A I Cragg (Irl) 3:41.64; 8 M East (GB) 3:42.13; 9 S Davies (GB) 3:43.54; 10 J Thie (GB) 3:43.74; 11 C McCourt (GB) 3:45.59; 12 T Carter (GB) 3:48.22; 13 N Speaight (GB) 3:52.91.

5,000m: 1 B Lagat (US) 12:59.22; 2 K Bekele (Eth) 13:00.04; 3 A Kiprono Choge (Ken) 13:00.74.

4 x 100m relay: 1 GB A 39.18sec; 2 GB B 39.40; 3 GB Juniors A 39.73.

400m hurdles: 1 K Clement (US) 48.63; 2 J Carter (US) 48.79; 3 K Thompson (Jam) 48.83. Selected: 6 R Williams (GB) 49.84.

High jump: 1 S Holm (Swe) 2.34m; 2 G Mason (GB) 2.31; 3 J Williams (US) 2.28. Selected: 9 A Scarr (GB) 2.20; 11 M Bernard (GB) 2.15.

Triple jump: 1 C Olsson (Swe) 17.42m; 2 P Idowu (GB) 17.06; 3 J Kapek (Fr) 16.93. Selected: 4 N Douglas (GB) 16.89; 5 O Achike (GB) 16.74.


100m: 1 S Simpson (Jam) 11.00sec; 2 M Jones (US) 11.05; 3 T Edwards (US) 11.26. Selected: 7 J Maduaka (GB) 11.45; 8 A Onuora (GB) 11.47.

400m: 1 S Richards (US) 49.05; 2 N Williams (Jam) 50.24; 3 S Williams (Jam) 50.44. Selected: 4 N Sanders (GB) 50.68; 7 C Ohuruogu (GB) 52.43.

800m: 1 J Jepkosgei (Ken) 1min 58.54sec; 2 R Lyne (GB) 1:58.69; 3 K Sinclair (Jam) 1:58.76. Selected: 5 A Pritchard (GB) 1:59.74; 6 M Okoro (GB) 1:59.75; 9 J Meadows (GB) 2:00.34; 11 S Scott (GB) 2:02.74; 12 K Harewood (GB) 2:04.33.

3,000m: 1 T Dibaba (Eth) 8:29.55; 2 B Adere (Eth) 8:33.17; 3 E Dibaba (Eth) 8:35.94. Selected: 4 J Pavey (GB) 8:38.80; 12 M T Cullen (Irl) 9:00.61; 14 F Fullerton (GB) 9:07.52; 15 J Ankier (GB) 9:17.09. Dnf: K Reed (GB).

400m hurdles: 1 D Darden (US) 54.88; 2 N Danvers-Smith (GB) 55.26; 3 L McConnell (GB) 55.43. Selected: 4 E Duck (GB) 55.70.

High jump: 1 K Bergqvist (Swe) 2.05m; 2 A Acuff (US) 1.94; 3 A Di Martino (It) 1.94. Selected: 9 J Crane (GB) 1.85. Javelin: 1 J Robbeson (SA) 60.80m; 2 S Viljoen (SA) 59.22; 3 G Sayers (GB) 56.83.

Long jump: 1 T Smith (Jam) 6.63m; 2 K Sotherton (GB) 6.52; 3 E Goulbourne (Jam) 6.52. Selected: 5 J Johnson (GB) 6.44.

Pole vault: 1 Y Isinbaeva (Rus) 4.91m; 2 S Feofanova (Rus) 4.65; 3 J Stuczynski (US) 4.65. Selected: 6 J Whitlock (GB) 4.35; 8 K Dennison (GB) 4.35.