Chambers wins 60m final in National Indoor Championships

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The Independent Online

Dwain Chambers was on course to give UK Athletics a major headache after qualifying joint fastest for the final of the 60 metres at the World Indoor trials in Sheffield.

The former European champion clocked 6.60seconds - the same as his heat - which was then matched by European indoor silver medallist Craig Pickering.

Chambers had qualified fastest for the semi-finals from the heats where the announcement of his name had been greeted with cheers and shouts of "Go on Dwain".

The Islington-born athlete had looked mightily impressive when he cruised through as the fastest qualifier by some distance.

The 29-year-old lined up alongside Christian Malcolm - who had been stripped of his 2002 European 4x100m title and 2003 sprint relay medal because of Chambers' drug conviction.

On the other side was world 100m champion Harry Aikines-Aryeetey who, at 19, has his entire career ahead of him.

Chambers was favourably greeted again for the first semi-final which was disrupted by three false starts that saw Aikines-Aryeetey and James Christie disqualified.

Chambers powered out of his blocks and led all the way to the line in 6.60 ahead of Malcolm in 6.70, who put his arm around his former GB team-mate following the race.

There was clearly a high degree of camaraderie with his athletes despite the controversy surrounding his appearance in Sheffield.

The former world junior 100m record holder's presence at the English Institute of Sport has overshadowed the programme and will eclipse all other performances over the two days - unfortunate for the likes of high jumper Samson Oni who yesterday claimed the Olympic qualifying height for the Beijing Games when he cleared 2.30metres.

The row over Chambers' bid to compete in Sheffield has dominated this week's build-up to the trials and UK Athletics were thought to be desperate to see the former European champion's bid for victory fail.

The governing body had attempted to ban Chambers - who served a two-year suspension after testing positive for THG in August 2003 - from competing at the English Institute of Sport as they claimed he had retired to take up a career in American football but the athlete maintained this was not the case.

UKA then reluctantly agreed to accept Chambers could compete in Sheffield under International Association of Athletics Federations rules as he had constantly informed them of his whereabouts.

Should he win, Chambers would be automatically guaranteed a spot for next month's World Championships in Valencia but if he claims second place, it could herald another row.

The second spot is discretionary and UKA would in all probability not select the north Londoner on the grounds that he will not be able to compete at the Olympics because of his drug ban and would instead award it to a developing athlete.

In the other semi-finals, European under-23 100m champion Simeon Williamson went through in 6.65, with Leevan Yearwood two hundredths of a second behind.

Pickering, who had appeared slightly stiff in his heat, was far more impressive in winning his semi-final.

Meanwhile, Richard Hill held off European bronze medallist Sam Ellis at the start of the final lap of the 800m to claim victory in one minute 48.26 seconds, sufficient to qualify for Valencia.

Ellis went on to Hill's shoulder with 200m to go and appeared in pole position to strike but his 21-year-old opponent broke away with Damien Moss then overtaking Ellis for second.

Hill said: "It feels good, from my view, to win a tactical sound race.

"Not only that but I have just run the World Indoors qualifying time without really thinking about the time."