Jackson on a high

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The Independent Online
ATHLETICS If Colin Jackson can reproduce the form against Russia today that he showed in the corresponding indoor international last year, he and Britain will have cause for celebration. On that occasion, Jackson equalled the world 60 metres hurdles record of 7.36sec.

It would be a surprise even to him if he were to match that achievement in the McDonald's International at Birmingham in what marks his first competitive outing following three months' training in Florida.

Even so, Jackson looks untouchable in the tandem of events at which he won European indoor gold last March, the 60m flat and hurdles.

Those likely to be in contact with him are, in the 60m, Aleksandr Parkhomovsky, who was fourth in the European indoors, and, in the high hurdles, Jackson's Welsh compatriot and Florida training partner, Paul Gray. Jackson believes Gray, who won a Commonwealth bronze last season, has the potential to reach the World Championship final this year.

At 200m, Solomon Wariso, who returned to athletics after a three-month suspension at the Birmingham New Year Games, gets another run in the arena as a guest. He lines up alongside Darren Braithwaite, who beat Wariso on his comeback with a personal best time of 20.87, the fastest indoors this year, and John Regis.

In a British team that includes 11 new caps, Judy Oakes, the Commonwealth shot put champion, wins her 68th cap having just improved her UK veterans record to 17.70m. Britain's newcomers include Mark Hylton, fourth in last year's 400m at the World Junior Championships and a strong contender to follow Roger Black, David Grindley and Guy Bullock by taking the European junior title this year.

The Russians, who won the equivalent fixture last year thanks to the performance of their women, field four European indoor champions: Pyotr Bochkaryov (pole vault); Galina Malchugina (200m); the 42-year-old Yekaterina Podkopayeva (1500m); and the 22-year-old Andrey Loginov, who runs the 800m against Tom McKean and Craig Winrow.

After his dismal 1994, when he failed to reach the final to defend his European 800m title, it will be interesting to see whether McKean, now 31, can revive his career. He says he has shaken off the hamstring and groin injuries which afflicted him last year and has regained his enthusiasm for training.

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