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
Zayn has become the first member to leave One Direction. 'I have to do what feels right in my heart,' he said
peopleWe wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Life and Style
Researchers found that just 10 one-minute swill-and-spit sessions are enough to soften tooth enamel and make teeth vulnerable to erosion
health
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
The Regent Street Cinema’s projection room in the 1920s
film
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Leah Devine is only the ninth female to have made the Young Magician of the Year final since the contest began more than 50 years
peopleMeet the 16-year-old who has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year
News
Jonathan Anderson was born in Northern Ireland but now based between London, where he presents a line named JW Anderson
peopleBritish designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
News
Andy Davidhazy at the beginning (left) and end (right) of his hike
video
News
Taylor Swift is applying to trademark song lyrics from 1989
people
Voices
The popularity of TV shows such as The Liver Birds encouraged Liverpudlians to exaggerate their Scouse accent
voicesWe exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
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

Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
How to make your own Easter egg: Willie Harcourt-Cooze shares his chocolate recipes

How to make your own Easter egg

Willie Harcourt-Cooze talks about his love affair with 'cacao' - and creates an Easter egg especially for The Independent on Sunday
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef declares barbecue season open with his twist on a tradtional Easter Sunday lamb lunch

Bill Granger's twist on Easter Sunday lunch

Next weekend, our chef plans to return to his Aussie roots by firing up the barbecue
Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

The England prop relives the highs and lows of last Saturday's remarkable afternoon of Six Nations rugby
Cricket World Cup 2015: Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?

Cricket World Cup 2015

Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?
The Last Word: Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing