Hansen loses world title chance

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Ashia Hansen, who has twice beaten the world's top ranked triple jumper this year, will not have the chance of registering a third such victory at the World Indoor Championships in two weeks' time.

Hansen, who beat Rodica Petrescu-Matee of Romania in Birmingham on Sunday with an effort just one centimetre short of her British record of 14.58 metres, was not named yesterday in the team for Paris on 7 to 9 March because she missed the world indoor trials a fortnight ago.

The omission of the 25-year-old American-born jumper - which was heavily signalled by Britain's chief coach, Malcolm Arnold, on Sunday - leaves Britain with only two obvious gold medal challengers: Jamie Baulch in the 400 metres and Steve Smith in the high jump, although both 400 metres relay teams look capable of earning a medal as well.

"I have spoken to Ashia and she is upset," Arnold said. "It's sad. I have an enormous regard for her, and after Atlanta I've said she was one of our stars for the future.

"But she knew the rules. All the athletes were sent a letter last December telling them what the selection guidelines were. We will be damned for selecting her, but we will be damned if we don't. What the athletes asked for was consistency in selection and that is what we have done."

Hansen, who missed the trials because she was training and competing in South Africa, said: "I knew there were to be trials before I went but my trip was already arranged and I knew I wouldn't be back in time. I was told the team wasn't going to be picked until February 23 so I thought there would be time to get in some good performances after the trials."

The performances have indeed been good, but sadly for Hansen and Britain the small print has not been attended to.

John Mayock, who set a British 3,000m record on Sunday, will no doubt be relieved to see his name on the team sheet. He also missed the trials, but provided the selectors with a doctor's note vouchsafing that he had flu. But he could have done without the jitter-inducing wait until last Friday, when he received his first indication that his case would be looked on kindly.

Jason Livingston, Britain's 600m trials winner becomes, as expected, the first athlete from this country to win an international vest after returning from a four-year drugs ban. Livingston, European indoor champion five years ago, will do very well to get a medal given the ebullient form of rivals such as Ray Stewart, Bruny Surin, and the in-form Ato Boldon.

The best hopes for a champion lie with Baulch, who beat the reigning champion Darnell Hall for a fourth consecutive time at the weekend, and Smith, the Olympic bronze medallist whose winning effort of 2.34 metres on Sunday puts him top of the world rankings.

Baulch and Mark Hylton, his partner in the individual 400, could combine with good effect in the relay. The women's team captain, Sally Gunnell, maintaining her comeback after being carried injured from the Olympics, hopes to do the same alongside Phylis Smith, who bettered Gunnell's British record on Sunday.

BRITISH TEAM (World Indoor Championships, Paris, 7-9 March) MEN: 60m J Livingston (Shaftesbury), J Gardener (Bath and Wessex). 200m D Turner (Cardiff), J Golding (Blackheath). 400m J Baulch (Cardiff), M Hylton (Windsor, Slouth and Eaton). 800m A Hart (Coventry Godiva). 1500m I Campbell (Haringey). 3,000m I Grime (Newham and Essex), J Mayock (Cannock and Staffs). 60m hurdles C Jackson (Brecon), D Greaves (Newham and EB). High Jump S Smith (Liverpool Harriers), D Grant (Haringey). Shot M Simson (Belgrave Harriers), M Proctor (RAF). 4x400m G Bullock (Wigan), A Patrick (Windsor Slough and Eaton), S Baldock (Hastings), R Knowles (Birchfield). Women: 1500m S Griffiths (Cramlington). 3,000m S McGeorge (Brighton). 60m hurdles C Court (Birchfield). High Jump D Marti (Bromley Ladies), M Dunkley (Kettering) Pole Vault R Clarke (Essex Ladies), J Whitlock (Trafford). Long Jump J Wise (Coventry Godiva). Shot J Oakes (Croydon). 4x400m M Thomas (Birchfield), J Sloane (Coventry Godiva), J Stoute (Essex Ladies). 60m M Richardson (W, S and E), B Kinch (Hounslow). 200m K Merry (Birchfield Harriers, D Fraser (Croydon). 400m P Smith (Sale), S Gunnell (Essex Ladies). 800m H Parry (Swansea), D Modahl (Sale).

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