Grindley plans low-key return after year in the wilderness

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The Independent Online
Athletics

MIKE ROWBOTTOM

David Grindley, Britain's 400 metres record holder, plans to return to action this weekend after a year's absence with an Achilles tendon injury. The 22-year-old Wigan Harrier, who last raced in September 1993, when he won the IAAF Grand Prix final at Crystal Palace, has a low- key appearance in mind, probably in Finland.

He plans another race in Sweden and is then lined up to face Britain's other premier one-lap runners, Roger Black, Du'Aine Ladejo and Mark Richardson, in the season's opening domestic meeting, Gateshead, on 2 July.

"I'm feeling apprehensive and excited at the same time," Grindley said yesterday of his return to the track. "I'm dreading the feeling of the last 100 metres. 400 metres is going to be a long way. It will be a big relief to me when it's over."

In the meantime, Yvonne Murray has been named captain of Britain's women for the European Cup in Lille this weekend. The 30-year-old Scot takes over from Sally Gunnell, who has an Achilles tendon injury. Murray, who will run the 5,000m, made her British debut in 1983 and has competed more than 40 times for the team since.

Birchfield's Katharine Merry, who has been troubled by a knee injury, has withdrawn from Britain's sprint relay squad.

Michael Johnson, who won US titles at both 200 and 400 metres at the weekend - a feat not achieved since 1899 - has warned Europe what it can expect from him in a season where he will seek to repeat his double at the world championships.

"I'm going to be running a lot of 200s in Europe fresh," said Johnson, who recorded times of 43.66sec at 400 and a wind-assisted 19.83sec over 200 metres at the weekend's championships in Sacramento. "And when I go in fresh, I think 19.6 is possible."

That would obliterate the sport's oldest record, the Italian Pietro Mennea's clocking of 19.72sec in 1979.

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