Pressure on Campbell to find Athens form

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The Independent Online

No one is likely to be feeling the heat more keenly than Britain's most experienced sprinter Darren Campbell, who will race at a venue less than two miles from the Moss Side estate where he was brought up. The 31-year-old's form this season has been poor, with a 100m best of 10.49sec that has been bettered by more than 20 other Britons, and Campbell knows that he needs a huge improvement to maintain his standing as a top international athlete

However, he has been here before, and it would be a rash man who ruled out his chances of rising to the occasion once again. Nevertheless, Campbell cannot expect any favours from two of his team-mates in Athens last summer, Mark Lewis-Francis and Jason Gardener, who will start as favourites.

The selectors' calculations could be made more complicated by Christian Malcolm, who is using the short sprint to warm up for his main event, the 200m. Malcolm, now fully recovered from the potentially fatal kidney failure which undermined his Olympic chances, took the 200m title at last month's European Cup in 20.15, his best time for four years. If he has managed to maintain that sharpness, Malcolm looks eminently capable of reaching the podium in the 100m.

Over 200m, he will be pushed by another of the victorious Olympic relay members, Marlon Devonish, who produced a hugely promising double of 10.16 and 20.35 in Cork last weekend.

A calf injury has deprived the championships of Dame Kelly Holmes, while at the other end of her career 16-year-old Emily Pidgeon, who had a realistic chance of winning the newly established 3,000m steeplechase title, had to withdraw on Thursday after suffering from gastroenteritis.

Nathan Douglas looks capable of holding off the more established talent of Phillips Idowu and Larry Achike in the triple jump after establishing a personal best of 17.27m in Lausanne this week.

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