Collins seeks escape route over Chambers' relay run

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The Independent Online

Dwain Chambers, whose crucial High Court hearing has been switched from tomorrow to Thursday, is guaranteed a place in the British sprint relay squad in Beijing if he succeeds in suspending the British Olympic Association by-law currently rendering him ineligible for any Games. However, according to Dave Collins, the UK Athletics performance director, he would not be guaranteed a run with the baton.

Speaking after the announcement of the 47 competitors who will form the main bulk of Britain's athletics team, Collins acknowledged the International Association of Athletics Federation's ruling that the three selected individual runners at 100 metres have to be included in the relay team.

As his emphatic victory in Saturday's 100m at the Olympic trials in Birmingham demonstrated, Chambers – timed at 10.00sec despite the damp and blustery conditions – is the fastest Briton around. But Collins reserved a bit of wriggle room for UKA by insisting : "It's not necessarily the fastest four runners that will get the stick round fastest. With respect to the team that won gold in Athens four years ago, I think that was true then. There are a lot of factors to take into consideration, and people have specialist roles. For instance, Marlon Devonish is a fantastic bend runner. Others are strong at receiving and passing on the baton."

Collins pointed out that the squad is funded through the Lottery programme – something for which Chambers's two-year doping ban in 2003 renders him ineligible – and added that the members had been practising hard. "We haven't spent two years of investment in this to get it wrong at the last moment," he added.

That said, Collins was in charge two years ago when Chambers, just back from his suspension, was included in the relay team at the European Championships in Gothenburg, a move which notably disaffected the 2004 Olympic sprint relay gold medallist Darren Campbell in what was his last competition.

Predictably, only the man who finished second to Chambers in Birmingham in a personal best of 10.03sec, Simeon Williamson, was named in the 100m. Collins believes there are at least four sprinters vying for the two remaining places. Two of those, clearly, will be Chambers and the man who finished third in a season's best of 10.19sec, Craig Pickering. But his comments offer hope for the sprinter who finished a disappointed fourth on the day, Tyrone Edgar, who has run 10.06sec this season as well as winning at last month's European Cup.

"Craig has made a very convincing case for himself and has a 2-0 record over Tyrone," Collins said. "But Tyrone has run faster this year. And there is a chap called Marlon Devonish who still might have something to say about things." Devonish, named in the 200m along with trials winner Christian Malcolm and Alex Nelson, dropped out of the trials with a virus after finishing seventh in the 100m final.

Paula Radcliffe has admitted she is in "a race against time" to recover sufficiently from a stress fracture of her femur to be in competitive shape to run the Olympic marathon. The 34-year-old world marathon record holder, who flew in from her French training base in Font Romeu yesterday to undergo her latest scan at the British Olympic Medical Institute at Northwick Park in London, is understood to be progressing well after her recent return to high-intensity running. "I'm going back to continue my training," she said before flying home. "But yes, it is going to be a race against time."

Despite a promising trials victory at 400m hurdles, Perri Shakes Drayton has not been named. Instead, selectors have named the athlete she beat, Tasha Danvers, who has an Olympic A qualifying mark. But Drayton will try at least once before Saturday night's deadline to gain the A mark herself.

Britain's athletics squad for Beijing

* MEN

100m Simeon Williamson

200m Marlon Devonish, Christian Malcolm, Alex Nelson

400m Martyn Rooney, Andrew Steele

800m Michael Rimmer

1500m Andy Baddeley, Tom Lancashire

5,000m Mo Farah

110m hurdles Andrew Turner

High jump Germaine Mason, Tom Parsons

Long jump Greg Rutherford, Chris Tomlinson

Triple jump Larry Achike, Nathan Douglas, Phillips Idowu

Pole vault Steve Lewis

Decathlon Daniel Awde

4x100m relay Harry Aikines-Aryeety, Tyrone Edgar, Craig Pickering, Simeon Williamson

4x400m relay Michael Bingham, *Richard Buck, Martyn Rooney, *Andrew Steele, Rob Tobin

* WOMEN

100m Jeanette Kwayke

200m Emily Freeman

400m Lee McConnell, Christine Ohuruogu, Nicola Sanders

800m Marilyn Okoro

1500m Lisa Dobriskey

5,000m Jo Pavey

10,000m Jo Pavey

3,000m steeplechase Helen Clitheroe, Barbara Parker

400m hurdles Tasha Danvers

Pole vault Kate Dennison

Long jump Jade Johnson

Discus Philippa Roles

Javelin Goldie Sayers

Heptathlon Kelly Sotherton, Julie Hollman

4x100m relay Emma Ania, Montell Douglas, Jeanette Kwayke, Anyika Onuora, Laura Turner

4x400m relay Lee McConnell, Christine Ohuruogu, Nicola Sanders,

* Subject to confirmation of medical fitness by 10am on Saturday.

Already announced on 19 May

Men

Marathon Dan Robinson

Women

20km walk Johanna Jackson

Marathon Paula Radcliffe, Mara Yamauchi, Liz Yelling

(First draft of team members. Final names will be added by the British Olympic Association on Saturday.)

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