Athletics: Chambers left out of initial Gothenburg list

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The Independent Online

Dwain Chambers may be Britain's swiftest 100 metres runner this season, but after withdrawing from Saturday's final at the European trials he learned yesterday that he was not being fast-tracked into the team that will compete in Gothenburg from 7 to 13 August.

The 28-year-old Londoner, who recorded a time of 10.07sec after returning from a two-year doping ban last month, decided after the semi-final in Manchester that he did not want to exacerbate a thigh injury.

His name was conspicuously absent, however, from the first wave of 60 selections announced by UK Athletics yesterday, even though several other athletes - including European Cup 200m winner Christian Malcolm and Commonwealth 400m champion Christine Ohuruogu - were included despite needing to prove their fitness.

Chambers must do the same thing by the final deadline of 1 August - when around 20 more names will be added - if he is to earn the opportunity to regain the European title he won four years ago and was subsequently stripped of.

Questioned on the apparent disparity of treatment for an athlete who took second place in the European Cup earlier this month, UKA's performance director, Dave Collins, could produce no logical reason.

"We want to see whether his fitness is right," said Collins, who pointed out that Chambers had only raced three or four times since returning from an absence of effectively three years. "We also have other permutations of other athletes" he added, presumably in reference to the relay event.

Collins indicated that a number of those selected would be competing in the "last chance saloon" in Gothenburg, and was not averse to the suggestion that these included the former world junior champion who could only manage third place in Saturday's 100m final, Mark Lewis-Francis.

"I think Mark himself would also be happy to acknowledge that he had unfulfilled potential," said Collins, who stood by his prediction that Britain had 10 medal shots in Sweden.

When asked where the gold medal possibility was within that number he responded with a cautious list that included Christian Malcolm in the 200m (if fit), the long jump trio of Chris Tomlinson, Nathan Morgan and Greg Rutherford, who jumped within one centimetre of the British record on Saturday, the triple jumper Phillips Idowu, who managed 17.50m on Sunday, and the world 400m finalist Tim Benjamin - again, assuming full fitness.

If Gothenburg is the last chance saloon for some, for others it represents a wide open opportunity.

While 21-year-old Rikki Fifton is still waiting to claim the third spot in the 200m he deserves from his performance on Sunday - when he could only be separated from Marlon Devonish on a photo-finish - other young talents are safely included such as Michael Rimmer, the 20-year-old winner of the 800m. "I'm looking forward to doing myself justice there," a delighted Rimmer said yesterday. "I don't want to go out in the heats."

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