British athletics, emerging from a pay dispute which has done nothing for the image of the sport, was dying for a world record from Jonathan Edwards at last night's KP Grand Prix - but the hopes had to be put on hold.
The man who has produced three jumps over 18 metres this season - only to be denied a world record on each occasion because of illegal wind assistance - pulled out with an ankle injury following his third triple jump.
Edwards had already done enough to beat a world class field with a jump of 17.69 metres, just five centimetres less than his British record. But it soon became clear that there would be no more extraordinary performances as he departed the scene for ice packs and physiotherapy - a wise precaution with the World Championships looming next month.
He does not plan to jump at next weekend's AAA Championships; he may do a 100 metres in Birmingham, but his preference is simply for a period of rest and - if possible - relaxation.
"I was very aware of trying to jump a world record for the crowd tonight and I was trying too hard. On my third jump I forgot my technique and jarred my leg on the first landing. It was difficult to pull out, although the expectations here should not have been a factor. Perhaps I should be more ruthless."
Kelly Holmes, Tony Jarrett and Steve Backley provided further inspirational British victories on a night when Linford Christie, John Regis and Colin Jackson - whose pay deal was not settled in time for them to compete at Britain's flagship televised meeting, did their best on a PR level as they signed autographs and joked around in front of the main stand. It was a poor second to running.
Backley, the local boy from Sidcup, did his bit by beating the world champion, Jan Zelezny, with a throw of 88.54m, which only the Czech himself has beaten this year. Zelezny managed 88.16.
Jarrett defeated a 110m hurdles field which included the American world indoor champion, Allen Johnson, and Germany's 6ft 7in Florian Schwarthoff, second fastest in the world this year, and Jarrett registered delight as he crossed the line in 13.20sec. Once again, the absence of Britain's world champion, Jackson, had allowed him to shine.
Holmes accelerated over the final 100 metres to beat a world class field in the 800m and confirm her status as one of Britain's best hopes at the World Championships.
It looked as if the Commonwealth 1500m champion was going to lose her first race of the season as the field was led into the final bend by Regina Jacobs, of the United States, and Letitia Vriesde, the world's fastest this year. But the army sergeant, romping down in an outside lane, passed them all to win in 1min 58.77sec.
Paula Radcliffe advanced her 5,000m ambitions in a hugely competitive race which saw Sonia O'Sullivan, Ireland's European 3,000m champion, win in 14:47.65, bettering Zola Budd's UK All Comers' record. The 21-year- old Loughborough student, running with patent effort as always, set a new English native record in second place with 14:49.27.
The 100m race in which Christie might have run had he not been too tired after competing in Paris and Lausanne this week was won by Donovan Bailey of Canada, in 10.16, with Darren Braithwaite, the only Briton, fifth in 10.30. Christie's next race is likely to be in midweek in Nice. Regis and Jackson are due to compete in tomorrow's Welsh Games.
For all the PR effort, the crowd was well below the capacity of 17,000, with 12,500 tickets sold. The warm weather may have attracted in a number of late-comers, many of whom may have missed some of the more significant of the night's action.
Two days after equalling his nine-year-old personal best of 44.59 in Lausanne, Roger Black recorded 45.16 behind the American winner, Darnell Hall, who ran 44.94. As Black remarked ruefully to the on-course commentator after his 6.55pm outing in the second main track event of the 14 put on: "There were still a lot of people coming in, which was rather a shame."
In the 400m hurdles, Derek Adkins won from Danny Harris, back after his recovery from cocaine addiction, in 47.74, which bettered the All Comers' record of the great Ed Moses.
The 1500m saw Venuste Niyongabo, of Burundi, win in 3:33.30, the second fastest time in the world this year behind Noureddine Morceli. John Mayock was fourth in a personal best of 3:34.58, and Gary Lough set a Northern Ireland record of 3:34.82 just behind him.
Curtis Robb made an encouraging return to top class competition after long-term injury with an 800m in 1: 45.91, finishing sixth behind the US winner, Brandon Rock, who clocked 1.44.97. The 10,000m produced another All Comers' record as Niyongabo's compatriot, Aloys Nizigama, won in 27:20.39.
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