Grindley's grit earns a bronze redis

Robert Dorsett sees British team fail to strike gold in World Student Games
Click to follow
The Independent Online
For the first time since Sofia 18 years ago, Great Britain have left the World Student Games, in which they contested eight sports, without a champion. At least they finished on a high note yesterday in Fukuoka, winning medals in the 4 x 100m and 4 x 400m men's relay events.

One of the biggest success stories, among the three silver medals and seven bronze won, must surely be David Grindley's return to international competition after a two-year absence through injury.

Grindley is a long way from the form he showed four years ago when he just missed out on a medal in the Olympics but his gutsy run on the anchor leg in the 4 x 400m to hold off Masayoshi Kan, of Japan, earned a bronze medal.

The foursome was made up by Antony Williams, Jared Deacon and Gary Jennings who clocked 3min 2.42sec behind the United States, who set a Games record of 3:0.4.

The Americans also won the men's 4 x 100m by less than half a second from the British quartet of Paul White, Toby Box, Douglas Walker and Michael Afilaka. Box, who beat Linford Christie in the UK championships in 1993, commented: "All round it was an excellent team performance. It is very encouraging to push the Americans so close."

Sam Smith's form here against some of the world's top women tennis players and her decision to return to professional tennis is equally encouraging.

While the return of Grindley and Smith bodes well for the future, the Fukuoka Games have marked the end of an era for one of Britain's most famous sportsmen. Neil Thomas, double silver medallist at successive World Championships, announced he would be retiring from international gymnastics after the World Championships in Japan later this month. It was a shame that Thomas's performance here was not good enough for a place in the top 10.

Another disappointment was that the purpose-built facilities here were often only half-filled. The ticket prices may have had something to do with that - one for the closing ceremony cost pounds 130.

It remains to be seen whether the Fukuoka Games will lose as much money as the Buffalo Games before it. Because of the lack of media interest, it is difficult for any city to justify the cost of hosting them. The taxpayers of Sheffield are still paying for the decision to stage the event in 1991 and Sicily, the planned host for 1997, may yet have to withdraw its application because of cost.

However, according to the Universiade movement's leader, Primo Nebiolo, who is also president of the International Amateur Athletic Federation, the event's future is secure. "We will continue to survive," he said.

Overall, the British team will be a little disappointed that they fell short of the medal tally achieved in Buffalo, but can feel proud that they competed in the biggest Student Games in history with 3,949 athletes from 162 nations.

National anthems were replaced at the medal ceremonies by the FISU anthem in keeping with the Universiade motto, which reads: "One World through University Sport".

Results, Sporting Digest, page 21