Morceli falls just short of world record

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The Independent Online


It is a mark of Noureddine Morceli's pre-eminence in middle distance running that the 1500 metres time of 3min 27.52sec which he produced at last night's Monte Carlo grand prix could be regarded as a relative disappointment.

The Algerian missed the world record he set at Nice 13 days earlier by just 0.15sec, but he could claim that the performance was intrinsically more worthy in that he had to run the final 700 metres on his own, something he was not called upon to do in the south of France.

As he knelt upon the track with arms raised in acknowledgement of the applause, it was hard to imagine any circumstances in which he could be beaten in the World Championships, which start on Saturday week.

The women's 1500m produced a personal best for Ireland's Sonia O'Sullivan, who won in 3:58.87, and a dramatic fall for the Olympic champion, Hassiba Boulmerka of Algeria, who was taken off on a stretcher in evident pain having tumbled over the track kerb after 120 metres.

Roger Black, who was disappointed with his run in Sheffield on Sunday, did not take part as scheduled in the 400m. Although his knee injury did not trouble him after Sunday's race at Sheffield, he is now suffering from a cold which was made worse by competing in order to fulfil the selectors' request.

Du'Aine Ladejo, however, did run, but whether his last place, in a race won by Jamaica's Greg Houghton in 44.62, will convince him that he has recovered sufficiently from his hamstring problem to run the relay in Gothenburg is open to question.

Donovan Bailey, who is the fastest man over 100m this season, returned to form after two defeats by Linford Christie as he won in 10.05 against a field that included several of his World Championship rivals.

Marie-Jose Perec, who will attempt the 400m and 400m hurdles double at the World Championships, could only finish sixth in a 400m won by Australia's Commonwealth champion, Cathy Freeman, in 50.35.

China's world 10,000m record holder, Wang Junxia, and her estranged coach, Ma Junren, have been dropped from the Chinese squad for the World Championships. The Chinese women thus look unlikely to match the impact they made in the 1993 World Championships.

That represents good news for Britain's 10,000m competitors, Jill Hunter, Yvonne Murray and Liz McColgan, who ran a career-best 14:59.56 for 5,000m at the weekend as Portugal's Fernando Ribeiro set a world record of 14:36.45.

Results, Sporting Digest, page 23