Athletics: Bruising fall gives Lyne a bumpy 800m debut in Europe

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The Independent Online

The 800 metres in the European Cup has never been the gentlest of rides. Lord Coe probably still bears the scars from his bruising introduction to senior international competition in the two-lap event at the 1977 meeting in Helsinki.

Four months after a stunning victory at the European Indoor Championships in San Sebastian, the featherweight Coe was bumped and barged around the Olympic Stadium track in the Finnish capital, crossing the line a battered fourth behind the heavyweights Willi Wulbeck, Olaf Beyer and Jose Marajo.

Becky Lyne - like Coe, a member of Hallamshire Harriers and a former student of Tapton School in Sheffield and Loughborough University - suffered a similarly sobering European Cup baptism in the Ciudad de Malaga stadium on Wednesday evening.

Having broken through the two-minute barrier to rank become the third fastest-ever British woman at 800m, Lyne was poised to make her mark when she moved through the field on the final lap. Instead, she caught the heels of the falling Ukrainian Tatyana Petlyuk and crashed to the ground.

Though she picked herself up to finish eighth, the 23-year-old was left with a badly grazed shoulder and a painfully spiked buttock. "It has happened to me before," she said, "at the European Youth Olympics. It's all part of the experience of international competition."

Indeed it is, but it was an experience Richard Hill was keen to avoid in the men's 800m last night. Like Lyne, the 20-year-old from Nottingham has made rapid progress this summer. The 1min 45.10sec he clocked three weeks ago made him the fastest this year of the nine men in yesterday's field.

Hill lead a field that included Ivan Heshko, the world indoor 1500m champion from the Ukraine. Unfortunately, the effort took its toll as he turned into the home straight for the final time. He faded from first to seventh in the last 100m, crossing the line in 1min 47.59sec - 1.59sec behind the victorious Juan Jurado of Spain.