Caines injury sees Davis race against former countrymen

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The Independent Online

Malachi Davis, the Californian who gained a British passport earlier this month in a bid to run at the Olympics, will face two of his former compatriots who have earned Athens 400 metre places, when he runs in tomorrow's Norwich Union International at Birmingham.

Malachi Davis, the Californian who gained a British passport earlier this month in a bid to run at the Olympics, will face two of his former compatriots who have earned Athens 400 metre places, when he runs in tomorrow's Norwich Union International at Birmingham.

Davis, a 26-year-old from Sacramento who finished fifth in the British Olympic trials, was due to have a run in the relay at Birmingham's Alexander Stadium, but yesterday's news that Daniel Caines, Britain's former world indoor champion, had withdrawn with a knee problem left the selectors with a spare place which Davis has now filled alongside European Cup and trials winner Tim Benjamin.

It promises to be a highly competitive affair which might project Benjamin towards the sub-45 second territory given the presence of Otis Harris and Derek Brew, who were second and third respectively in the US trials, as well as Jamaica's Commonwealth champion Michael Blackwood, who is the clear favourite.

Meanwhile, the world 100m champion, Kim Collins, who runs in a field that includes the first two home in the Olympic trials at Manchester, Jason Gardener and Darren Campbell, has picked out Campbell as Britain's most likely medal challenger in Athens.

The 28-year-old from St Kitts & Nevis will face all three of Britain's Olympic qualifiers, as Mark Lewis-Francis runs on his home track as a guest.

"I rate Darren," said Collins. "Why? Because he has always come through. He did it at the last Olympics in Sydney and at the worlds in Paris. He is a championship contender."

Unlike Britain's recently retired world 110m hurdles record-holder Colin Jackson, who said British sprinters would struggle to reach the finals in Athens, Collins believes all three 100m men are capable of getting there.

"All three could do it, definitely," he said. "I think Mark just needs to calm down a bit. I have run with him before and he can be hyper. If he can calm down, he will be fine. Jason was on target in the indoor season but he has had surgery and I don't know how well he can recover in the next month."

Collins, who also faces the United States's world 200m champion John Capel, intends to maintain his winning streak in major championships after securing the 2002 Commonwealth title in Manchester and the world title in Paris last year.

He said: "Most world champions go on to win the Olympic Games. If I don't do that I will be the first person to mess up the flow."

Kelly Holmes, who is due to test her Olympic readiness over 800m with the leading two-lap runner of the moment, Slovenia's European champion Jolanda Ceplak, has admitted she is feeling the pressure.

The 34-year-old could carry Britain's hopes in both the 800m and 1500m and is keeping her options open as she bids to add to her tally of 10 major championship medals.

"I feel under pressure to perform and that's affecting my racing," said Holmes. "It's been stressful because I know this is my last Olympics."

She added: "If you put yourself under pressure, you tend to think too much and you become tense. I put a lot of pressure on myself anyway and then everyone says the team is not going to perform as well as it should. The expectations that other people have been putting on us has been harsh."

Hayley Tullett, Britain's world bronze medallist, also competes, along with Canada's Commonwealth silver medallist Diane Cummins.

The men's 200m should provide further vivid sprinting interest as Britain's leading pair Chris Lambert and Christian Malcolm face US challengers Darvis Patton, the world silver medallist, and JJ Johnson, whose anchor leg relay run saw him pass Dwain Chambers to earn gold at last summer's world championships.

Elsewhere, Christine Ohuruogu, surprise winner of the 400m at the British trials, is given her first senior vest as she runs alongside the woman who finished fourth at the last Olympics, Donna Fraser.

World long jump champion Dwight Phillips continues a strong US tradition in this event and will start as favourite alongside Chris Tomlinson, Britain's sole choice for Athens.

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