Athletics: Gardener steals early march in pursuit of Commonwealth gold

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The Independent Online

Earlier this month, the Olympic sprint relay gold medallist broke the indoor 100m record and in Moscow on Wednesday - at the venue which will host the World Indoor Championships - he laid down another marker by winning the 60m in 6.60sec.

The two men who followed him home in Moscow, South Africa's Morne Nagel (6.61sec) and Russia's Andrei Yepishin (6.65sec), will provide his main opposition in Glasgow, but Gardener is looking beyond this familiar challenge to the Commonwealth Games, where he feels he can translate his outstanding indoor form to success over 100m.

"I believe I'm capable of doing something special in the 100m this year," he said yesterday. Gardener is likely to be seeking a sub-10 second timing at the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne. He has been in that territory before, but not in the last eight years.

The Glasgow meeting will also prove an important early-season guide for anther of Britain's Olympic medallists, Kelly Sotherton. The 2004 heptathlon bronze medallist will compete in the 60m hurdles and the long jump, although, unfortunately for the British team, she will not be accompanied in the latter event by Jade Johnson. The European silver medallist has a recurrence of the back problem which forced her to abandon competition midway through last year's Glasgow meeting.

The Commonwealth long jump champion Nathan Morgan has chosen not to defend his title in Melbourne but to seek instead a first medal at the World Indoor Championships, which take place less than a fortnight earlier. He will open his indoor campaign against world indoor bronze medallist Vitaly Shkurlatov.

Morgan will be anxious to prove that he has put two injury-troubled years behind him. The same applies to Mozambique's multiple 800m world champion, Maria Mutola. "The Glasgow race will tell me a lot about what shape I'm in," said the 33-year-old former Olympic champion.

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