Sesay steps up and shrugs off the Coe comparisons

Athletics
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The Independent Online
Mark Sesay, whose promising career has been threatened by a series of injuries over the last six years, received confirmation yesterday that he has timed his run back to fitness perfectly. The 24-year-old City of Leeds runner will make his Great Britain debut over 800 metres in the European Cup team competing in Munich on 20 to 21 June.

Sesay, whose junior dominance led to inevitable comparisons with the young Sebastian Coe, has been given his call up after ridding himself of the shin problem which threatened his career. The improvement occurred during a scholarship to the University of Alabama last year.

Last month Sesay - who was Britain's top junior in 1990 and 1991 - emerged from the wilderness when he clocked 1min 46.03sec in Loughborough, taking two seconds off his best.

But he is anxious to steer clear of any overblown speculation. "When any 800m runner breaks on to the scene they are called the next Seb Coe," Sesay said. "It happened to me when I was a teenager when I was beating everybody out of sight. Over the past couple of weeks it happened to me again.

"It's a bit unrealistic really. When all is said and done I have only run 1:46. Obviously I am hoping to get down to the 1:41 that Seb ran, but I can't see it happening this year or maybe next." While Sesay finally embarks on his international career, the competition which starts a week on Saturday looks likely to mark Linford Christie's last appearance in a British vest.

The 37-year-old former Olympic champion, who captained the men's side when they managed their only European Cup win in 1989, will fulfil the same role in Munich.

He will run a sprint double, seeking to extend his incredible record in the competition of 15 victories, including all seven 100 metre races since 1987.

Roger Black, who will take over from Christie as captain after the event, was named in the 400 metres despite the rival claims of Mark Richardson, Jamie Baulch and Iwan Thomas, his colleagues in the Olympic silver medal winning relay team.

Colin Jackson, whose run of success in the 110m hurdles ended last year when he finished second in Madrid, just got the nod ahead of Tony Jarrett.

"They were tough decisions but it shows the strength we have at these events," Malcolm Arnold, the national director of coaching, said.

Britain have finished runners up in the European Cup on the last five occasions and Arnold admits it will take a major effort to prevent Germany making it four victories on the trot on home soil.

The women's team, which may be pushed to retain its elite status after finishing sixth in Madrid, will again be led by Sally Gunnell. She continued her comeback by finishing second in Moscow on Sunday with her best time this summer, 55.30sec.

Great Britain team for European Cup

Men

100m: Linford Christie (Puma Thames Valley Harriers). 200m: Linford Christie (Puma TVH). 400m: Roger Black (Team Solent). 800m: Mark Sesay (City of Leeds). 1500m: John Mayock (Cannock & Staffs). 3,000m: Anthony Whiteman (GEC Avionics). 5,000m: Andrew Pearson (Longwood Harriers). 110m hurdles: Colin Jackson (Brecon). 400m hurdles: Chris Rawlinson (Belgrave Harriers). 3,000m steeplechase: Robert Hough (Sheffield Harriers). High jump: Steve Smith (Crawley). Pole vault: Nick Buckfield (Crawley). Long jump: Steve Phillips (Rugby). Triple jump: Jonathan Edwards (Gateshead). Shot: Mark Proctor (Newham & EB). Discus: Robert Weir (Birchfield Harriers). Hammer: Paul Head (Newham & EB). 4x100m relay: Ian Mackie (Pitreavie), Darren Campbell (Sale Harriers), Jason Livingston (Shaftesbury Barnet), Doug Walker (Newham & EB), Jason Gardener (Bath & Wessex), Marlon Devonish, (Coventry Godiva). 4x400m relay: Roger Black (Team Solent), Iwan Thomas (Newham & EB), Mark Richardson (Windsor Slough & Eton), Jamie Baulch (Cardiff AC), Mark Hylton (Windsor Slough & Eton), Richard Knowles (Birchfield). Travelling reserves: 1500m, 3,000m and 5,000m: Neil Caddy (Newquay & Par). Decathlon: Jamie Quarry (Harrow).

Women

100m: Simmone Jacobs (Shaftesbury Barnet). 200m: Simmone Jacobs (Shaftesbury Barnet). 400m: Donna Fraser (Croydon Harriers. 800m: Hayley Parry (Swansea). 1500m: Kelly Holmes (Ealing, Southall & Middlesex). 3,000m: Paula Radcliffe (Bedford & County). 5,000m: Lucy Elliott (Shaftesbury Barnet). 100m hurdles: Angie Thorp (Wigan). 400m hurdles: Sally Gunnell (Essex Ladies). High jump: Debbie Marti (Bromley Ladies). Pole vault: Janine Whitlock (Trafford). Long jump: Denise Lewis (Birchfield Harriers). Triple jump: Ashia Hansen (Shaftestbury Barnet). Shot: Judy Oakes (Croydon Harriers). Discus: Jackie McKernan (Lisburn). Hammer: Lyn Sprules (Hounslow). Javelin: Sharon Gibson (Notts AC). 4x100m relay: Simmone Jacobs (Shaftesbury Barnet), Marcia Richardson (Windsor Slough & Eton), Bev Kinch (Hounslow), Paula Thomas (Trafford), Katharine Merry (Birchfield), Andrea Coore (Essex Ladies). 4x400m relay: Phylis Smith (Sale Harriers), Allison Curbishley (Edinburgh Woollen Mill), Donna Fraser (Croydon Harriers), Sally Gunnell (Essex Ladies), Michelle Pierre (Croydon Harriers), Lorraine Hanson (Birchfield Harriers). Travelling reserve: Jo Pavey (Bristol).

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