Athletics: Gardener keeps cool to retain title

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The Independent Online

Jason Gardener coolly kept his head before winning last night's 60 metres final here at the TEAG Indoor International meeting. He posted a world best mark for the second time in five days in retaining the title he won last year.

His time of 6.53sec was only 100th of a second quicker than his effort in Glasgow on Saturday but the race was contested in far more difficult conditions. After Brian Lewis, of the United States, made a false start, Kareem Streete-Thompson was red-carded after committing the second punishable offence.

That left Gardener with a vacuum as the Cayman Islands Commonwealth long jump bronze medallist was in the adjacent lane to the European record-holder. It did not affect the result, though, as Gardener powered through the field to win easily, from Italy's Simone Collio (6.56sec) and Germany's Alexander Kosenkow (6.69sec).

Gardener admitted the false starts had added to the tension while acknowledging that Streete-Thompson's dismissal gave him an additional problem. The reigning European champion was only fifth out of his starting blocks and said: "With him [Streete-Thompson] gone there was no one in the next lane to feed off and I got a terrible start.

"When there's nobody there, it does make things difficult. I hate the false-starting system. After the first one you are immediately on edge knowing even if you flinch you might be pulled out of the race yourself."

Gardener, who now heads for Stuttgart for tomorrow's prestigious Sparkassen Cup meeting, added: "Therefore in the circumstances I've got to be happy running 6.53sec. I felt strong and was clearly in better shape than the opposition."

That was a clear reference to the top Americans Lewis and Greg Saddler, who finished in fifth and sixth place respectively. "I know there are a few things to work upon which will fetch further improvements," Gardener added.

Gardener's coach, Malcolm Arnold, is also guiding Rachel King. Last year's Welsh outdoor champion reached the finals of both the 60m and 60m hurdles. The hurdles is her speciality event and she finished sixth in a time of 8.23sec at her first European competition of the season.