Athletics: Edwards confident of staying on track for World Championships

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The Independent Online

Jonathan Edwards believes he is still on schedule to perform well at the World Championships in Paris this month despite making a late start to his season.

Tonight the world triple jump champion goes up against his chief rival for gold in the French capital, Christian Olsson, at the IAAF Super Grand Prix meeting here. Edwards is confident of a good showing both in Paris and here in Sweden, where he set his world best mark in 1995 in Gothenburg.

"After being so positive in Gateshead (where Edwards jumped 17.61 metres but finished second to Olsson), I am very optimistic that things will go according to plan," he said. "I always planned a late start to my season."

While Olsson has been competing and winning regularly, 37-year-old Edwards now feels he has to restrict the wear and tear on a body which has been subjected to 15 years of international competition. After Stockholm, Edwards plans to appear in only two more competitions before the Championships - the Norwich Union London Grand Prix this Friday and seven days later in Zurich.

"I've got no aches and pains and we'll see how it goes in Stockholm," Edwards added, "but I am expecting to jump very well."

Denise Lewis left yesterday for a training camp in Germany to assess her fitness for the World Championships. Although chosen to contest the heptathlon when the first wave of the Norwich Union Great Britain team was announced last week, the Olympic champion still has to commit herself to competing in Paris.

A recent illness also delayed her work-up programme and, according to her coach, Frank Dick, the next 10 days are vital. "Denise left today for an intensive training period where she can concentrate totally on her preparations," Dick said.

"The decision about whether she will definitely compete at the World Championships will come from her in due course."

Dick confirmed that Lewis will not be competing in tomorrow night's IAAF DN Galan Super Grand Prix meeting in Stockholm. Organisers were hoping she would go head-to-head with Carolina Kluft, winner of last year's European title, in the long jump.

"There was a possibility that Denise would compete there," Dick said, "but the training camp at this stage of the season is considered her best option."

The Olympic world 100 metres champion Maurice Greene will miss the Zurich meeting on 15 August to concentrate on the Paris World Championships, which start the following week. The United States sprinter's manager Emanuel Hudson said his coach, John Smith, thought the meeting was too close to the Championships.

Instead Greene, who has been struggling with tendinitis in his right leg, will run a relay at the Berlin Golden League meeting on 10 August as part of his preparation for Paris.

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