Collins stays calm as Ennis adds to injury concerns

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The Independent Online

British athletics' Olympic prospects suffered two further blows at the weekend as Jessica Ennis pulled out halfway through the international heptathlon here because of an ankle injury and Nicola Sanders, the world 400m silver medallist, was reported to have given up the idea of competing in Sunday's Prefontaine Classic in Eugene, Oregon, because of a knee injury.

Ennis and Sanders, two of the brightest performers currently operating on the domestic scene, have both acted in a cautionary fashion, although the former is likely to learn the extent of the damage today after flying home from Austria at 7am yesterday.

With Paula Radcliffe due to find out within the next three weeks whether her Olympic ambitions have been ended by a stress fracture of her femur, these are edgy times for the UK Athletics performance director, Dave Collins. But after a weekend of widespread activity by British athletes, he urged against undue pessimism and highlighted several promising performances, foremost of which was a 100 metres time of 10.06 seconds for Tyrone Edgar at Saturday's Geneva meeting – the joint sixth fastest by a British sprinter in history – which puts him first in the queue for the individual European Cup spot later this month.

Meanwhile, organisers of the meeting at Kalamata, in Greece, have confirmed that another possible contender for a British sprint place in Beijing, Dwain Chambers, will make his return to 100m racing on Wednesday.

It will be Chambers' first race over the distance for almost two years and he will be chasing the qualifying standard of 10.85sec required to earn a place in next month's Olympic trials.

Ennis had been due to compete in Götzis against her domestic rival Kelly Sotherton, but the 2004 Olympic bronze medallist withdrew from the meeting because she is still catching up after missing two weeks' training at the start of May because of a kidney infection.

The 22-year-old Sheffield athlete produced a hugely respectable performance on the first day, despite having to have treatment on her ankle during the high jump event, and finished just 36 points adrift of the leader, Anna Bogdanova, of Russia, with three successive shot putt personal bests, culminating in 13.52 metres, to her credit.

But the smile had disappeared from her face later as she lay on a treatment table with ice around her right foot. "It's not the ideal scenario so close to the Olympics," she observed ruefully. Her coach, Toni Minichiello, commented yesterday: "We don't really know anything until we see the result of the scan. The feeling is that it is nothing too bad."