Athletics: Rawlinson targets British record

Chris Rawlinson has set his sights on breaking the 11-year-old British 400 metre hurdles record at the London Grand Prix at Crystal Palace next week.

Rawlinson possesses a career-best time of 48.14sec, but the man from Rotherham is determined to improve and has targeted Kriss Akabusi's time of 47.82sec.

"I'm definitely in the shape to break the British record," he said. "Everything has moved on for me since Paris and Rome. Crystal Palace is the key meeting in my World Championships build-up and I see no reason why the record shouldn't go there."

Rawlinson denied claims that the rest of the world's leading 400m hurdlers are fighting for the silver medal in Paris behind reigning champion Felix Sanchez of the Dominican Republic. Rawlinson was only narrowly beaten by him in the Rome Golden League.

"If the World Championships had been last year then I think Felix would be a hot favourite to win," said Rawlinson. "But the Felix Sanchez of today is not the Felix Sanchez of 12 months ago. Over the last 20 metres in Rome I was really catching him. I think he is starting to feel the pressure."

The start of the North Down International meeting in Bangor, Northern Ireland, was delayed last night due to problems with the flight arrangements of the main attraction, Sonia O'Sullivan.

The Olympic 5,000m silver medallist was scheduled to arrive from Manchester this morning but an emergency at Belfast City Airport is believed to have caused a knock-on effect in airline schedules.

Smoke was seen coming from a cabin at the Ulster airport yesterday morning and the outbound flight to Manchester was one of those affected while procedures were carried out to deal with the emergency.

A spokesman said: "This meant Sonia could not catch the original flight. She will not be arriving until 7.30pm tonight and we have delayed the meeting for 15 minutes to allow her sufficient time to warm up and compete."

O'Sullivan's race is the last in a programme which also features the Commonwealth and European javelin champion Steve Backley.

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