Athletics: Gardener sets sights on Budapest gold

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Many of Britain's best athletes have emerged to prominence via the indoor season. Linford Christie earned his first big title at the European Indoor Championships back in 1986. Du'aine Ladejo arrived in the limelight in the same competition eight years later, while Michael East, Commonwealth 1500m champion of 2000, announced his potential earlier that year, also at the European indoors, by taking a 3,000m bronze.

Yesterday's announcement of the first wave of British selections for next month's World Indoor Championships in Budapest contained an intriguing mixture of proven performers - East will contest the 1500m, while European indoor champion Jason Gardener is a strong favourite in the 60m - and rising new talent.

After his unexpected 60m hurdles victory on the first day of the weekend's Norwich Union World Trials and AAA Championships, Mohammed Sillah-Freckleton was a rising talent in every respect as he bounced up and down with excitement in the mixed zone. "See you at the Worlds," he shouted, with a smile that just wouldn't leave his face. "See you at the Worlds."

The 23-year-old Blackheath and Bromley athlete had his place confirmed in an event that is reshaping itself after the retirement of the world indoor record-holder, Colin Jackson.

Sillah-Freckleton was one of many athletes to have set personal bests in what was the inaugural major event at Sheffield's English Institute of Sport track, finishing in 7.68sec after Robert Newton, Britain's World Championship choice of last year and a training partner in the group coached by Lloyd Cowan, had crashed out of contention following a collision with the third hurdle.

Sillah-Freckleton's emergence was mirrored on Sunday by a 21-year-old sprinter who is coached by Linford Christie and Ron Roddan - Tim Abeyie.

Having taken 0.11sec off his 60m personal best the previous day with a semi-final time of 6.69, the Birchfield Harrier reduced his 200m best by more than half a second in the course of Sunday in taking the silver medal behind Ireland's Paul Brizzel in 21.02sec, 0.03sec inside the world qualifying mark.

Abeyie duly got his place, a just reward for his determination on a day when other fancied contenders fell away. Dwayne Grant, Christian Malcolm - who injured his groin - and the 2004 world leader Allyn Condon, who suffered a hamstring cramp in the semi-final will all have to try again before the second selection date of 24 February.

Kelly Holmes, runaway winner of the 800m at the weekend, will almost certainly take her place in the 1500m. She plans to run a fast race at that distance in Stockholm on Thursday. Ashia Hansen, who is due to compete at the Norwich Union Grand Prix in Birmingham on 20 February, is also likely to be among the second wave.

World indoor 200m champion Marlon Devonish and world 400m gold and then silver medallist Daniel Caines have said they will not compete indoors this year. But another Brit with a world indoor title, Welsh 400m runner Jamie Baulch, has been selected.

GREAT BRITAIN AND NORTHERN IRELAND TEAM WORLD INDOOR CHAMPIONSHIPS (Budapest, 5-7 March)

MEN

60m: J Gardener (Wessex and Bath); 200m: T Abeyie (Belgrave); 400m: J Baulch (Cardiff); 800m: J McIlroy (Abbey); 1500m: M East (Newham and Essex Beagles); 60m hurdles: M Sillah-Freckleton (Blackheath and Bromley); Long Jump: C Tomlinson (Newham and Essex Beagles).

WOMEN

60m: J Maduaka (Woodford Green and Essex Ladies); 400m: C Murphy (Woodford Green and Essex Ladies); 3000m: J Pavey (Exeter); 60m hurdles: S Claxton (Belgrave); High Jump: S Jones (Trafford); 4x400m C Murphy (Woodford Green and Essex Ladies), H Karagounis (Birchfield Harriers), J Meadows (Wigan) C Marshall (Edinburgh Southern Harriers).

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