OLYMPICS / Barcelona 1992: Athletics: Grindley to feel power of Watts

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The Independent Online
AFTER the tumultuous drama of Monday's events in the Estadio Olimpico, when Derek Redmond's tragedy, Ellen Van Langen's bolt up the inside and Colin Jackson's disaster reached an astonishing climax in the battle of the 10,000 metres, a rest day was probably a necessary prelude to this evening's equally promising programme on the track, writes Richard Williams.

The disappearance of Redmond and Roger Black from the 400 metres seems to leave the way open for a new generation. In the second of Monday's semi-finals, Quincy Watts's imperious front- running sent the memory on a rewind to Mexico in 1968, and to the sight of the smooth, compact Lee Evans cruising round the back straight on his way to a world record that was to stand for 20 years. But Monday's run was the first time it has been beaten in an Olympic Games, and Watts, who is 22 and comes from Detroit, looked to have plenty in hand while setting a time, 43.71sec, that was also a personal best.

David Grindley, the 19-year-old from Wigan, has knocked almost a full second off his previous best in the course of his progress to the final here. He has looked thoroughly composed, and it is tempting to suggest that this will surely not be the last time he and Watts meet each other in an Olympic final.

Another young Northerner, 20- year-old Curtis Robb of Liverpool Harriers, takes on the world's best middle-distance runners in the 800m final. Johnny Gray, the 32- year-old Los Angeleno, will be planning to end his sequence of Olympic disappointments by beating his young team-mate, Mark Everett, and the experienced William Tanui, of Kenya.

The tightest series of the day should be the final stages of the men's 200m. The 16 semi-finalists all qualified with times covered by less than four-fifths of a second, and while Michael Johnson must be the hot favourite, among those looking for the world champion's scalp will be Frankie Fredericks, Mike Marsh, Olapade Adeniken, John Regis and Linford Christie, who will be hoping to add the second sprint title to his 100m gold.

The women's 200m should be just as close, with semi-finalists including the three elegant Jamaicans, Merlene Ottey, Juliet Cuthbert and Grace Jackson.