Chambers hopes Bolt can help him secure Games qualifying time
Reprieved sprinter faces new hurdle in quest for place at home Olympics
Thursday 24 May 2012
There might have been a shortage of them for Jessica Ennis in Manchester on Sunday, but for Dwain Chambers the hurdles just keep coming. The metaphorical ones, at any rate.
First there was the British Olympic Association by-law precluding the selection of athletes who have served lengthy drugs bans. That was cleared when the Court of Arbitration for Sport deemed it invalid a month ago. Then there was the Great British public.
How might they react to our highest profile "drugs cheat" being eligible to wear the Team GB vest in the Olympics this summer? The warm welcome Chambers received as he lined up for the 150m at the Great City Games on Sunday would suggest that the majority approve of the Belgrave Harrier being given a second chance at the grand old age of 34, six years on from his return to competition after serving a two-year ban.
Now comes the challenge of keeping up with the best in the sprint business. Tomorrow night Chambers gets to run against the fastest man in history, at the Golden Spike meeting at Ostrava in the Czech Republic.
Having clocked 9.82 seconds in his 100m season opener, in Kingston three weeks ago, Usain Bolt has his sights set on a sub-9.80 time in his first race of the Olympic summer on the European circuit.
"It's almost like the 'must' for me," said the Jamaican, who has broken 9.80sec just once since his 9.58sec world-record in the World Championship final in Berlin in 2009.
Chambers placed sixth in that race, in 10.00sec, and has chased the Lightning Bolt just once since – finishing 0.18sec behind him in the heats at last year's World Championship in Daegu. Having clocked 10.52sec and 10.32sec in his first races of the summer, the Briton will be hoping to be dragged to the 10.00sec barrier in Ostrava.
"Whenever you get a chance to race against Usain, you can only get the best out of yourself," Chambers said. "He's in 9.82 form and he's probably going to get faster and faster, so I've just got to do my best to keep close to him. It would be nice if he could pull me to a fast time.
"I've still got to get the Olympic qualifying time [10.18 sec] to justify all this hard work."
The fall of the BOA by-law has opened the way for Chambers not just to compete in a home Olympics; it also seems to have relaxed attitudes towards him competing on the mainstream European circuit – hence the invite to Ostrava.
"That's going to make a massive difference," he said. "In order to beat the best you've got to compete against the best in the world and those opportunities weren't available to me. I didn't think I would get the chance to run in the 2012 Olympics. I feel like a little kid again, even though I'm 34."
The javelin thrower Ian Burns has been suspended from competition by UK Anti-Doping after being charged with "the possession and use of a number of prohibited substances". The 34-year-old Gateshead Harrier was ranked 84th in Britain last year.
Olympic news you may have missed...
Two leading members of Saudi Arabia's Olympic equestrian team will miss the Games after they were banned for eight months yesterday. The International Equestrian Federation announced the decisions against Khaled Abdulaziz al-Eid and Abdullah Waleed Sharbatly, whose horses tested positive for anti-inflammatories at separate events. Eid, the 2000 Sydney Olympics bronze medallist, and Sharbatly, who won silver at the 2010 World Equestrian Games, had their cases heard last month. Both have been suspended until October, backdating the suspensions to when they voluntarily subjected themselves in February, upon news of the positive tests.
What's coming up...
Today-Sunday In gymnastics, the men's European Championships continue in Montpellier. Louis Smith, bronze medallist in Beijing, goes in the pommel horse today. Daniel Keatings misses out through an ankle injury.
Today-Sunday Four-time world champion Shanaze Reade is the star attraction at the BMX World Championships in Birmingham, while Liam Phillips features in the men's event.
Roger Federer The Swiss will be on flag-bearing duty for his country at the opening ceremony in London on 27 July. The six-times Wimbledon champion also carried the flag at the Beijing Olympics four years ago.
Australian men's hockey side Coach Ric Charlesworth has criticised schedulers for handing his side three group matches which start at 8.30am. "I don't expect special treatment," he said. "I expect not to be disadvantaged. Out of five matches you might expect one 5am start [to the day] for our athletes, not three. It interferes with momentum."
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