OLYMPICS / Barcelona 1992: Athletics: Tired Regis misses medal

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A 200 metres final which had promised so much for John Regis ended in disappointment for him yesterday as the Olympic title was won in the relatively sedate time of 20.01sec by Mike Marsh, of the United States, who had come within a hundredth of a second of Pietro Mennea's 13-year-old world record of 19.72 in winning the semi-final, writes Mike Rowbottom.

Regis, too, had looked capable of greater things after his semi-final, where he was apparently comfortable in equalling Linford Christie's British record of 20.09. It seemed to be the perfect chance for him to become the first Briton under the 20-second barrier but he had left his best behind him.

'It was tough,' he said. 'Tonight I felt very tired and really flat. I'm not surprised at the end of the day. The heats and semis and final were a bit too hard. But the third guy was not that quick, so I'm very disappointed. I'm better than I showed tonight.' The third guy was Michael Bates, of the United States, who ran 20.38 behind Frankie Fredericks, of Namibia, who collected his second sprint silver medal of the Games with 20.13.

It must now be doubtful whether the weary Regis, who has been having cortisone injections in a strained hamstring, will be able to turn out for both the 100m and 400m relay teams as he did at the European Championships two years ago.

He was not named in the 4 x 100m quartet which will run the first round today - Tony Jarrett, Jason John, Marcus Adam and Linford Christie - but it is believed the team management want to bring him in for the semi-final and final. In the 4 x 400m relay which also starts today, Britain field Mark Richardson, Kriss Akabusi, Roger Black and Du'Aine Ladejo.

The 5,000m semi-finals saw the world champion, Yobes Ondieki of Kenya, the favourite, scrape through to the final as one of the fastest losers as Pascal Thiebault of France, Fita Bayisa of Ethiopia, and Abel Rodrigo of Spain - to the delight of the 65,000 crowd - sprinted past him. Jack Buckner, the 1986 European champion, was one place behind, but with only the first three guaranteed a place in tomorrow's final, his time of 13min 37.14sec was not enough.

Of the other Britons who had promised so much in running under 13min 11sec earlier in the season at Rome, Ian Hamer also failed to qualify, but Rob Denmark came through impressively to finish second in his heat behind the German, Dieter Baumann, in a time of 13.22.41. Denmark now appears to be gaining extra confidence to go with his ability; it should encourage him to chase the leaders tomorrow.