Athletics: Malcolm's 200m win preserves British men's elite status

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The Independent Online

To the astonishment of the medical men, he picked himself up and reached the 200 metres semi-finals in the Greek capital.

Last night, on the shores of the Mediterranean, it was the British men's team who were ailing, under threat of relegation from the Super League section of the European Cup. That was until Malcolm administered some high-speed remedial treatment.

For the third year in succession, and the fourth time in total, the Welsh sprinter surged to victory in his specialist event in the annual Continental competition.

Malcolm maintained his strength, composure and speed to drop the tiring Frenchman Ronald Pognon, who led Dwain Chambers from the gun to the line in the 100m on Wednesday. Half a stride down coming off the turn, the Newport man pulled clear to a decisive win in 20.29sec, the fastest time by a European this year

It was the first and, ultimately, the only win by a male British athlete here in Andalucia. More importantly, it lifted the British men's team into the comfort zone. At the conclusion of 20 events over two days here in Malaga, Malcolm and his colleagues finished a healthy third with 109 points - behind France (118) and Russia (116).

If Britain is not the sick man of European athletics, though, it is one of the poorly women. While the men's team finished with their élite European Cup status intact, the women dropped down into the second-class First League division.

After victories on the opening day by Natasha Danvers-Smith in the 400m hurdles and Jo Pavey in the 3,000m, the female squad managed just one top-three placing yesterday - the 4 x 400m relay quartet finishing third in the final event.

It left them seventh with 85 points, five points shy of safety in a competition won decisively by Russia.