Athletics: Smith beats Devonish to retain sprint crown

Nick Smith joined the chase for sprint places in the British team for the Olympics by retaining his 100 metres title at the UK Inter-Counties Championships in Bedford yesterday.

Nick Smith joined the chase for sprint places in the British team for the Olympics by retaining his 100 metres title at the UK Inter-Counties Championships in Bedford yesterday.

The Scottish runner held off a fierce challenge from the former world indoor 200m champion Marlon Devonish, winning in 10.25 seconds, three hundredths of a second ahead.

The battle had raged from the first round, when Smith won his heat in 10.38secs, only for Devonish - a fixture in the British 4x100m squad - to streak home in 10.35secs in the next heat. But the roles were reversed in the final with Smith quicker out of the blocks and never seriously challenged even though Devonish produced a stirring finish.

The AAA javelin champion Goldie Sayers got to within 40cm of the Olympics 'A' standard in setting an Inter-Counties record of 60.10m.

Steven Lewis, the 18-year-old from Staffordshire who is aiming for a place in the British team at this summer's IAAF World Junior Championships, won his first senior pole vault title after a dramatic jump-off with his 19-year-old county colleague Chris Tremayne. He cleared 4.95m despite a troublesome, blustery wind.

Christine Ohuruogu succeeded Joice Maduaka as the women's 200m champion, romping home in the final in 23.40 secs. However, experience dominated the men's triple jump with Julian Golley, the 1994 Commonwealth Games champion, rolling back the years to win a surprise seventh Inter-Counties title. The 32-year-old reached 16.35m with his third attempt, leaving Larry Achike in second place with 16.17m

The British sprinter Abi Oyepitan claimed a memorable victory over the European 200m champion Muriel Hurtis in Kalamata, Greece on Saturday. Oyepitan flew to victory in 22.96 seconds, just ahead of France's Hurtis who clocked 22.99secs. Oyepitan also won the 100m in a time of 11.37secs.

Meanwhile, Michael East is looking for an Olympic qualifying time in today's Thales FBK Games in the Dutch town of Hengelo. The Commonwealth 1500m champion is confident he can finally fulfil the potential he showed in Manchester two summers ago and is already talking about a place in the Olympic Games final in Athens.

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