Athletics: Coach doubtful on Campbell double

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Long after the crowds had departed the Alexander Stadium following Sunday night's climactic 200 metres in the Norwich Union AAA Championships and World Championship trials, two men stood talking in the car park.

One of them was the UK Athletics sprint coach Graham Knight, a key member of the selectors who will announce their main team for Paris today. The other was a runner who could justifiably claim to have had the best weekend of any of Britain's athletes, Darren Campbell.

The topic of discussion was whether the 29-year-old's achievement of finishing second in the 100m and third in the 200m should be rewarded by selection in both events, and Campbell made ebullient use of a temporary press audience to make out his case as Knight looked on with a runic expression.

"I've already shown I can double up," said the Olympic 200m silver medallist, whose coach Linford Christie knows all about the demands of doing the shorter and longer sprints at major championships. "I reached the 100 and 200 finals in Sydney. I want to double up at next year's Olympics, but who knows if I'll get the chance. I've got the chance to do it now, so why can't I make use of it?"

Campbell added with a grin: "I'm 29, and I'm not going to go on as long as Linford [Christie] did.

"I feel fitter than I did in Olympic year. That's God's honest truth. I've had a full winter's work, and I've got no niggles. My legs feel great.

"We've got the best physios in the world in Britain. If they could get me to the European 100m final last season despite all the problems I had, and then leave me feeling even better when the 200m came around, I've got no worries about getting through the races.

"I can't make the decision about what I run, though. I don't want to come away from the World Championships thinking 'I should have run the 100' or 'I should have done the 200'. How can I choose?"

Knight's only intervention was brief, but it may be telling. He pointed out that the topic of discussion involved not two events, but three - a clear reference to the fact that Campbell would also have to include the relay, where Britain may even have a glimpse of gold, in his calculations.

Was Knight hinting that stretching Campbell to three events would be too much? We shall know today. Among those most interested in the verdict will be the world indoor 200m champion, Marlon Devonish, who finished just 0.01sec behind Campbell in the longer race, and the double European indoor champion Jason Gardener, who was fourth in the short sprint.

* Albert Chepkurui - who is pursuing Qatar citizenship, along with Stephen Cherono, the Commonwealth 3,000m steeplechase gold medallist - has withdrawn from the Kenyan team which was selected on Saturday for next month's World Championships, and has been replaced by Salim Kipsang in the 10,000m.

Comments