No 'Kapows' as Batman and The Riddler make friends

Past disputes cleared up by Britain's hurdling champion Greene and his rival Jackson before today's meet

Rome

It could have been Gotham City, rather than the Eternal City. It was in the basement room of a Roman hotel that Batman came face to face with The Riddler yesterday.

Given the recent history of antagonism between the pair, sparks – and the odd Kapow! – were expected to fly. Rather disappointingly, the meeting ended with the arch-rivals standing side by side, smiling together for the cameras.

Both were keen to set the record straight on the eve of their 400 metres hurdles encounter at the Golden Gala meeting in the Stadio Olimpico tonight – starting with Bershawn Jackson on the subject of how he came to be known as Batman.

"I got called that name since I was nine years old because I have big ears and I fly when I run," the 29-year-old American said. "It stuck with me ever since."

Dai Greene, the Welshman who flew to the World Championship 400m hurdles title in Daegu last summer, later explained that he came to be christened The Riddler when Jackson hit the headlines with a verbal attack on him last month. "We were training in Portugal at the time and we just had a laugh about it," he said. "I was dubbed The Riddler and the rest of the group had nicknames too. Malcolm Arnold, our coach, was The Penguin. "

It was something of a riddle that Batman Jackson had turned on Greene in the first place, on the basis of what he supposed the Swansea Harrier had said about US 400m hurdlers at the medallists' press conference in Daegu.

"Greene said we were overrated," Jackson claimed. "It's going to be really difficult for him in his country to stop the Americans from coming and sweeping up in 2012. He wrote a cheque that he can't cash and I'm coming. You're going to know I'm in the race.

"I'm upset about it and hope that the other Americans are upset about it. If they're not, I'm going to remind them when it comes to press conference time. Now you got to stand up to what you said. Now you have a target on your back."

So had Greene packed his chequebook for his first meeting of the year with Jackson, the 2005 world champion and 2008 Olympic bronze medallist? The Welsh Riddler laughed at the question. "We'll see whether that materialises in London," he said.

For the record, Greene did not in fact accuse his American rivals of being "overrated" at the post-final press conference in Daegu, as reference to the YouTube video of it confirms. What he actually said was: "The Americans haven't really been dominating on the circuit this year... It is nice to see fresh faces on the scene... people who aren't just American for a change. It just shows that the rest of the world is catching up."

On stage at the meeting HQ hotel here yesterday, at the Golden Gala preview press conference, Jackson was asked about "the polemics" between himself and Greene, who was sitting at the other end of the table.

"The media are making more than what it is," the Miami native replied. "There's no grudge between me and David Greene at all. I think he's a great competitor. He's the world champion."

As for Greene, on stage he spoke of his "huge respect" for American 400m hurdlers and smiled and posed for the cameras with Jackson. Sitting in the lobby, out of the hurdling Batman's earshot, he reflected: "When I first read the story I was obviously a bit disappointed that I'd been misquoted. I don't want to be seen as the athlete who just slags the Americans off.

"They're the most successful nation in the 400m hurdles in recent years. I'm not stupid; I know that. It's interesting what they have to say about me but I'm not too bothered, if I'm honest.

"I guess it doesn't bother me if people find me nice or not nice. I don't come here to make friends. I'm always courteous to them, I always congratulate them when they beat me, but I guess how they perceive me is up to them – as long as they see me as a good competitor and someone who stands for high morals in sport as well. That's why I was a bit concerned originally at the story of me just slagging them off for being overrated when they've been world and Olympic champions in previous years."

It perhaps rankles with some Americans that Greene has been such a strident critic of LaShawn Merritt, the Olympic 400m champion who fell foul of the drug testers because of a male enhancement product. "Everyone knows how I feel about it," Greene said. " I'm just proud to say that I do it clean. I'm all for people speaking out and getting rid of drug cheats. It lowers the sport, sadly."

It was Merritt's successful fight against the International Olympic Committee's one-Games bar on returning doping offenders that prompted the fall of the British Olympic Association by-law, paving the way for Dwain Chambers to compete at London 2012. As it happens, Chambers will also be in action here tonight – not lining up in the 100m, against Usain Bolt, but in the 4x100m relay.

It will be his first relay appearance for Great Britain since the European Championships in Gothenburg in 2006, when Darren Campbell famously refused to share a lap of honour with him.

Riddle me this: What's in their nicknames?

Batman vs The Riddler

One is Bruce Wayne, a crime-fighting hero who keeps Gotham City safe from such evil types as the other, the puzzle-loving alter ego of one Edward Nigma. One has been played by such luminaries as Michael Keaton, Val Kilmer, George Clooney and Christian Bale. The other, most famously, was played by Jim Carrey. Neither, so far as anyone can tell, is much cop over the 400m hurdles.

Olympic news you may have missed...

Badminton World Champion-ship silver medallists Chris Adcock and Imogen Bankier have been selected to represent Team GB in the mixed doubles this summer. The pair finished the Olympic qualification period ranked 10th in the world. "I was over the moon when I received my selection letter," Adcock, 23, said. "I had achieved one of my lifelong goals. Now that I have been selected to represent Team GB, my focus is to put myself in the best position possible to perform at my optimum level."

Elsewhere, Great Britain have been drawn with Croatia, Russia, Montenegro, Brazil and Angola in Group A of the women's handball tournament.

What's coming up...

Saturday-Sunday North-West Gala, Liverpool. In the final trials for a place in Team GB's trampolining team, 2011 British individual champion, Kat Driscoll, and former U19 world champion, Laura Gallagher, compete for the single spot in the women's individual event this summer. Driscoll came seventh in the World Championship qualification event last November, securing Team GB a place at London.

Who's up?

Olga Butkevych The Ukrainian-born wrestler has been selected as Great Britain's only representative in the sport at this summer's games. Butkevych was brought to Britain in 2007 to train with the host nation's squad, and was controversially allowed to stay to qualify for the Olympic team after she received a British passport.

Who's down?

Philippa Savage The Australian rower has been dropped from the Olympic team after falling out with team-mates. Savage, 31, was dumped on the eve of the World Cup regatta. "The incompatibility was affecting the crew's preparation and performance," Rowing Australia performance director Andrew Matheson said.

News
Ben Little, right, is a Labour supporter while Jonathan Rogers supports the Green Party
general election 2015
News
The 91st Hakone Ekiden Qualifier at Showa Kinen Park, Tokyo, 2014
news
Life and Style
Former helicopter pilot Major Tim Peake will become the first UK astronaut in space for over 20 years
food + drinkNothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
News
Kim Wilde began gardening in the 1990s when she moved to the countryside
peopleThe singer is leading an appeal for the charity Thrive, which uses the therapy of horticulture
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Alexis Sanchez celebrates scoring a second for Arsenal against Reading
football
Life and Style
health
Voices
An easy-peel potato; Dave Hax has come up with an ingenious method in food preparation
voicesDave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
News
i100
News
Japan's population is projected to fall dramatically in the next 50 years (Wikimedia)
news
Life and Style
Buyers of secondhand cars are searching out shades last seen in cop show ‘The Sweeney’
motoringFlares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own