Athletics: Greene determined to put on memorable show in Paris

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The Independent Online

Dwain Chambers and Mark Lewis-Francis, who measured their sprinting talents against world 100m record-holder Tim Montgomery in Glasgow last Sunday, face the man whose record Montgomery surpassed tonight in the IAAF Golden League meeting in Paris.

But although Maurice Greene has been characterised as a fading force by the likes of Montgomery, he is still intent on proving otherwise in a season where, on the same Stade de France track next month, he will seek a fourth consecutive world title. "I know I can run fast there," said Greene. "I am convinced there will be a big show."

The man from Kansas is probably right, but there is no obvious leading light in a race that also features the Commonwealth champion Kim Collins, Australia's Patrick Johnson, whose 9.93sec heads this year's rankings, US champion Bernard Williams and the man who is currently in the best form of everyone, Deji Aliu. Nigeria's former world junior champion underlined his standing in a wet and windy Lausanne on Tuesday when he beat Williams and Greene.

The performances of the British pair will be of great interest, with Williams insisting they have the ability to break the world record of 9.78sec run last September by Montgomery, who flew straight back to the United States after last Sunday's defeat by Chambers in Glasgow in order to be with his girlfriend Marion Jones and their newly-born son, Tim junior.

The 400m hurdles offers Britain's Chris Rawlinson the opportunity to see if he can get any closer to the world champion and current leader of this season's world rankings, Felix Sanchez. The Rotherham runner has established himself as a consistent performer thus far this season, winning at the European Cup and in last weekend's three-sided international at Glasgow in a season's best of 48.44sec. But the Commonwealth champion has even further to go following Sanchez's performance in Lausanne, when, despite the conditions, he ran the world's fastest time this year, 47.80sec.

The presence of Jamaica's Kemel Thompson, second in the 2003 lists with 48.23sec, and Llewellyn Herbert, of South Africa, who ran 48.69sec in Finland earlier this week, should ensure an evening which concludes with a firework display should also get off to a bang.

On the same night that Sanchez was defying the elements, Britain's Olympic javelin silver medallist Steve Backley was making what he described as a "steady start" to competition, having had a knee operation seven weeks previously. But Backley, who threw 79.66 metres in Vaxjo, Sweden, has exercised caution and decided against competing today in the stadium where, next month, he hopes to win his first global medal.

Kelly Holmes, who pulled out of Glasgow with a calf problem, has decided not to risk a return in the French capital as she looks ahead to competing in Gateshead on 13 July.

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