Malcolm defies 'serious' illness but Campbell limps off

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The Independent Online

Given the afflictions suffered by Britain's male sprinters on the road to Athens, and on the track in the Olympic Stadium, it would be no great surprise if they were to pass hospital thermometers instead of batons to one another in the 4x100 metres relay - assuming there are four of them in a fit state to get round, that is.

Given the afflictions suffered by Britain's male sprinters on the road to Athens, and on the track in the Olympic Stadium, it would be no great surprise if they were to pass hospital thermometers instead of batons to one another in the 4x100 metres relay - assuming there are four of them in a fit state to get round, that is.

After the failure to get a 100m representative into the Olympic final on Sunday night, at least two of the three chosen 200m men made it past the first two rounds of their event yesterday. That said, though, Christian Malcolm and Darren Campbell scraped through to today's semi-finals by the seat of their pants, as the slowest two of the fastest losers in last night's second round.

It remains to be seen, too, whether Campbell will even take his place on the start line. The hamstring injury that precipitated his first-round exit from the 100m troubled him in his first-round race at the longer distance yesterday morning. After fading from a comfortable second to a struggling fourth in 20.72sec, the British team captain left clutching his right hamstring.

He returned for the second round later and, despite suffering in the closing stages once again, fourth place in 20.59sec was just good enough to secure him a semi-final berth. The fact that he hopped to the perimeter of the arena to have immediate treatment, though, did not bode well for the prospects of the Sydney silver medallist making another appearance today.

Poor Chris Lambert did not even get as far as the finish line in his first-round heat. After hobbling round the bend, the Harvard politics graduate ground to a halt at the head of the home straight. "I got a small tear in my hamstring the day before I went out to the team holding camp," he said, after making his way out of the arena gingerly. "The medical staff have done wonders, but it just couldn't take the stress of going flat out. I've dreamt of running in the Olympics, but there is nothing I can do about it."

It was a wonder that Malcolm made it to Athens at all, never mind to the semi-finals. Just a fortnight ago, the Welshman was lying in a Cypriot hospital suffering from kidney failure.

He spent five days there before being cleared to return to the British team headquarters in Paphos, and he was subsequently passed fit to travel to the Greek capital.

Malcolm looked a picture of health in his first-round heat, coasting around the bend, moving into overdrive down the home straight and crossing the line in 20.62sec, the same time as the declared winner, Dominic Demeritte, of the Bahamas.

Fifth place in his second-round race, in 20.56sec, took the one-time Nottingham Forest youth team winger through to the semi-final.

"I didn't know what to expect," Malcolm said. "Two weeks ago, I thought I wouldn't be running. It was a serious condition, but the medical staff helped me stay positive and get through it."

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