Athletics: Campbell bows out as young gun fires

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The Independent Online

Darren Campbell could find himself saying farewell to the sport on Saturday by taking over the baton from Dwain Chambers, whose inclusion in the sprint relay team that won European gold last Sunday caused him to boycott the lap of honour.

The 32-year-old Sale Harrier, who will make his final appearance at the Norwich Union International at Birmingham this weekend, is one of eight athletes named in a relay squad that will be formed into two teams to compete against opposition from Russia, China and the United States.

Chambers, who also runs in the individual 100m along with fellow Gothenburg gold medallist Mark Lewis-Francis, is also in the squad, and it will be fascinating to see how the teams finally line up on the Alexander Stadium track. Selectors will make that decision tomorrow night.

Meanwhile, a sprinter at the other end of his career to Campbell, the 17-year-old Harry Aikines-Aryeetey, has added the world junior 100m title to the World Youth 100m and 200m gold medals he won in Marrakesh last year.

Aikines-Aryeetey ran a season's best 10.37sec in the Chaoyang Stadium to finish 0.02sec ahead of Canada's Justyn Warner, with Johan Blake, of Jamaica, third in 10.42sec. Draped in a Union Jack afterwards, the young Aikines-Aryeetey - who had feared that a back injury he picked up two months ago might have left him below his best in China - said that he was determined to return to Beijing for the Olympics in two years' time, even though he would still be young enough to defend his junior title in Poland.

"In competitive terms in athletics 2008 seems a long time away and I know it will come along quickly enough," Aikines-Aryeetey said. "I don't know who will be around then although I'm sure Asafa [Powell] will still be about. But I would love to be representing Great Britain and today has given me even more confidence.

"Throughout the year my training was going so well then my back injury surfaced," said Aikines-Aryeetey, who suffered his injury at the Norwich Union Grand Prix in Gateshead on 11 June. "I had a few confidence problems but the team here, my family and coach, the medical backing of UK Athletics - everyone got me through it. My coach [Matt Favier] said I would do it and if he says that, it's got to be true.

"It is my dream time. Yesterday I said I was too young to be a champion but I am young and I am extremely good. It felt like my night. I had a feeling that I could win and I got everything together at the right time."

It has been an eventful season for the teenager who played a high-profile part in the campaign to bring the 2012 Olympic Games to London. UK Athletics' decision to send him on a two-week trip earlier this year to train in North Carolina with the world and Olympic 100m champion Justin Gatlin and his coach Trevor Graham has earned criticism following Gatlin's positive doping test and a subsequent investigation into Graham.

Before the announcement about Graham, Favier made it clear that neither he nor his athlete would be retaining any links with the US group.

Aikines-Aryeetey was the first British world junior medallist for four years - no young Britons won a medal at the last Championships in Grossetto - and today that total could double after the 400m final, for which Martyn Rooney, the world junior No 1, qualified in style.

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