Athletics: Selectors aim to lure Holmes with choice of race

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The Independent Online

Kelly Holmes was yesterday offered the option of running either the 800 or the 1500 metres in next month's European Indoor Championships, although the double Olympic champion may still miss the event entirely if she is not satisfied with her form.

Kelly Holmes was yesterday offered the option of running either the 800 or the 1500 metres in next month's European Indoor Championships, although the double Olympic champion may still miss the event entirely if she is not satisfied with her form.

British team officials, who named a team of 46 athletes yesterday, were nevertheless optimistic that the 34-year-old would choose to compete in the event which starts in Madrid on 4 March. "I'm inclined to think she will be there," said Max Jones, the UK Athletics Performance Director, who will officially hand over his title to Dave Collins the day before the Championships get underway.

Although Holmes has until 48 hours before the opening day to make up her mind - the final entry deadline - Jones believes she will give an indication of her intention earlier than that after gauging her condition back in her South African training base at Potchefstroom.

"There's no point in leaving it and leaving it," he said. "You've got to get your head round winning it. With two days to go you won't know any more than one day or one hour before.

"It would be a big plus for the team if she is there. If she'd wanted an easy option as double Olympic champion she could have simply gone round the circuit and made some money and stayed away from any championships where she was going to be measured. These Championships are not an easy option - and there's no money in them."

The fact that these Championships will not have a direct bearing on UK Athletics' level of Lottery support has given them the freedom to set attainable qualification standards which have allowed 16 newcomers to senior international championships to be named.

"These championships are excellent for getting experience," said Jones, who feels that there are 14 British athletes with realistic medal possibilities. Among those are high hurdlers Allan Scott and Sarah Claxton, who followed up her British 60m hurdles record of 7.96sec with victory in last Friday's Norwich Union grand prix.

Should Holmes decide to go, she will have three other Olympic medallists from Athens to keep her company. Kelly Sotherton, heptathlon bronze medallist, will contest the pentathlon, while the 60m event will feature sprint relay gold medallists Mark Lewis-Francis and Jason Gardener.

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