All six British Olympic medallists were named yesterday in the team for next month's World Championships, but for one of them – Darren Campbell – time is running out to claim an individual place.
The Olympic 200 metres silver medallist, who is receiving urgent treatment for a hamstring problem, was only named in the sprint relay squad when the main bulk of those destined for Edmonton were announced yesterday following the weekend's trials. A place has been left open in both the 100m and 200m selections ahead of next Monday's final selection, but Campbell, who only finished sixth in the 100m in Birmingham and opted out of the 200m, needs to prove his fitness.
Now he must prove himself at Sunday's British Grand Prix at Crystal Palace. "It really is make or break for Darren," said the UK Athletics performance director, Max Jones. "We will give him one more week. The team we have selected looks every bit as strong as the one that travelled to Sydney last year. We have about a dozen medal shots, but there are 17 days to go."
If Campbell does show signs of improved fitness, however, the selectors' task has been made easier by the fact that the man who finished third in the 100m trials behind the winner Dwain Chambers and the runner-up Mark Lewis-Francis is ready to cede any place. Christian Malcolm, who was timed at 10.21 in Birmingham, went on to claim a place in the 200 metres and said yesterday that he would be willing to concentrate on the longer sprint if needs be.
"If it's between me and Darren for the spare 100 metres place, if he is fit I want them to give it him," Malcolm said.
No such offer was forthcoming from Chambers, who finished third in the 200m in Birmingham in a personal best of 20.65sec. "If I'm picked to run both, I'll run both," he said.
Although Lewis-Francis will be seeking to win the European junior title in Grossetto this weekend, the rest of Britain's élite sprinters will be at Crystal Palace to face a field that includes the world record holder, Maurice Greene. Campbell, who decided to rest rather than racing at Stockholm or Monaco this week, has entered both the 100 and 200 on Sunday.
The British Grand Prix could also prove crucial to the chances of several leading 400 metres runners, most notably the European and Commonwealth champion Iwan Thomas, back in consistent action after two years ruined by injury. He finished second in the trial but has to run inside the qualifying time of 45.72sec.
Thomas, who was runner-up to long-time domestic rival Mark Richardson at the trials, had hoped to organise a run abroad this week, but he was running out of options yesterday. "It looks as though Crystal Palace is going to be my only chance," he said.
He will be joined there by Richardson and two, perhaps three contenders for the two places that remain open. Mark Hylton and Jamie Baulch, third and fourth respectively at the trials, will seek qualifying times, although Baulch – the former world indoor champion – does hold a valid time that he set last season.
As things stand, the current world indoor champion, Daniel Caines, is also down to compete. He has already achieved a qualifying time this season but missed the trials with a shin injury.
There was encouraging news, however, from another missing athlete at the trials – Katharine Merry, the Olympic 400m bronze medallist, appears to be recovering from a viral complaint which has hampered her progress in the last month and, after returning to training on Saturday following a 10-day lull, she completed another successful session yesterday which makes her participation at Crystal Palace appear likely.
If Campbell and Merry come through, all six Britons who made the Olympic podium will travel to Canada. Although Kelly Holmes, the 800m bronze medallist in Sydney, still has to achieve the qualifying standard of two minutes dead this season, her trials victory has earned her the nod. She joins the two Olympic champions, Denise Lewis and Jonathan Edwards, selected for the heptathlon and triple jump respectively, and the javelin silver medallist Steve Backley, who missed the trials with a minor injury.
Nathan Morgan and Dalton Grant, the winners of the long jump and high jump, respectively, in Birmingham without achieving the world qualifying standard, will seek to put that right at Bedford this week, either in tonight's meeting, or the British League meeting to be staged there this weekend.
GREAT BRITAIN SQUAD
Men: 100 metres: D Chambers, M Lewis-Francis. 200m: M Devonish, C Malcolm. 400m: M Richardson. 1500m: J Mayock, A Whiteman. 5,000m: K Keska, M Openshaw. 10,000m: K Keska. 110m hurdles: D Greaves, T Jarrett. 400m hurdles: C Rawlinson, D Thorne-Ladejo. Triple jump: L Achike, J Edwards, P Idowu. Hammer: M Jones. Javelin: S Backley, M Hill. Decathlon: D Macey. 4x100m relay: D Campbell, D Chambers, M Devonish, M Lewis-Francis, C Malcolm. 4x400m relay: J Baulch, D Caines, M Hylton, M Richardson, I Thomas.
Women: 400m: D Fraser, K Merry. 800m: K Holmes. 1500m: H Pattinson, H Tullett. 5,000m: K Butler, J Pavey. 10,000m: P Radcliffe. 400m hurdles: N Danvers, S Dudgeon, K Maddox. High jump: S Jones. Pole vault: J Whitlock. Triple Jump: A Hansen. Hammer: L Shaw. Heptathlon: D Lewis. 4x100m relay: D Allahgreen, S Anderson, A Forrester, J Maduaka, A Oyepitan, M Richardson, S Wilhelmy. 4x400m relay: A Curbishley, S Dudgeon, D Fraser, L McConnell, K Merry, C Murphy, L Owusu.Reuse content