Joy for Thanou as champion is beaten again

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The Independent Online

Turning back the clock eight years gained Steve Backley a victory which will also see the former world record holder continue his javelin throwing career.

Admitting retirement entered his mind head after failing to qualify for the world championship final last weekend, then placing a lowly seventh in Zurich on Friday night, Backley was back in top form here in yesterday's Norwich Union Classic.

Consistency and a last round throw of 86.74m saw Backley return to winning ways ahead of Harri Haitainen, who had led from the first round with an opening effort and personal best of 86.63m.

Backley admitted Edmonton had been a bleak seven days in his life. "But after this it's all put to bed. I beat the best in the world today," he said.

"Retirement? I did think about it after Zurich. What's the point in carrying on if I can only throw 81m. Everyone would beat me. But not now. I've put things right.

"Obviously the technique I used in Edmonton wasn't working. So I reverted to the technique I last used eight years ago. Basically it's shorter and less can go wrong with it as there is less to think about.

"On reflection I should have really used that for qualification in Edmonton. Five of my six throws today would have qualified me a week ago."

After the disappointment of winning only one gold and a bronze medal at the world championships, what might have been a miserable home-coming celebration was brightened by victories from John Mayock, Paula Radcliffe, Jonathan Edwards and Kelly Holmes.

However, the best performance came from Felix Sanchez, the newly-crowned world 400m hurdles champion, who recorded a personal best 400m flat time of 44.90sec.

Mayock got his act together after an injury-hit season to win the 3,000m victory in 7min 57.11sec, outsprinting Ireland's Mark Carroll and the America's Tim Broe.

Mayock, who is planning to move up to 5,000m next year, said: "The trouble in Edmonton was I was still feeling the injury I picked up training – but that's not an excuse."

Radcliffe got over her disappointments in Edmonton and Zurich by breaking away three laps from the end to win the 10,000m. "That's what I was planning to do in Edmonton," she admitted. "It hurt a bit at the end but by that time there was only two laps to run."

There was a brilliant 800m victory for Kelly Holmes, who outsprinted world bronze medallist Letitia Vriesde over the last 200m to finish in 1:58.10.

Predictably Edwards was unchallenged in his speciality. The reigning Olympic, World and European champion won with a jump of 17.14m, ahead of team-mate Larry Achike who jumped 16.96m.

Given the loudest reception of the day from the crowd, Edwards said: "It's great to be back home. I haven't done a lot of training and I had to jump a pretty decent distance in not the greatest of conditions."

In the 100m Dwain Chambers was quickly out of his blocks in his clash with World silver medallist Tim Montgomery but the American won in 9.90sec.

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