Weary Christie settles dispute

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Athletics

Linford Christie has settled his pay dispute with the British Athletic Federation, but neither he nor his Nuff Respect colleagues, Colin Jackson and John Regis, will be running in the KP Games at Crystal Palace tonight.

Christie says he is tired after competing in Paris on Monday and Lausanne on Wednesday and he feels he cannot do justice to Britain's major international meeting of the season.

Regis misses Crystal Palace for the same reason as Christie, while Jackson would have been ruled out anyway because he is recovering from illness.

All three are now committed to the remaining televised international meetings in Britain this summer - at Sheffield on 23 July, Gateshead on 21 August and a second event at Crystal Palace on 27 August.

They will also run in the national championships at Birmingham on 15 to 16 July, something they have to do to gain selection for next month's world championships.

Crystal Palace, which has a capacity of 17,000, has sold just 10,000 tickets for what is the flagship meeting of the British season. Now that Christie and Co will not be running - for all their intention to be there to support the event - there is hardly likely to be a late run on tickets.

Once Christie had arranged to run the 200 as well as the 100 metres in Lausanne - in the assumed absence of any clear signal from the Federation - he had effectively ruled out running in London. A race against Michael Johnson and Frankie Fredericks was hardly likely to leave him feeling fresh after two hard 100m races.

It would have been nice, particularly from the point of view of the British spectator, if the whole affair had involved less brinkmanship on either side.

But at least the wrangling is over, and a more settled pattern has been established. Tonight's meeting will see the introduction of the Federation's system of pay-for-performance bonuses, a system that is aimed at the echelon of athletes below the top level. Not a lot is on offer at the moment - anyone running 10 seconds for the 100m, for instance, will earn pounds 800. But an important precedent, tilting the balance from appearance money to performance money, has been established.

The spectators tonight will not be without favourites to cheer. Roger Black, fresh from equalling his personal 400m best of 44.59sec in Lausanne, rejoins battle with the two Americans who beat him there, Darnell Hall and Derek Mills, in a race that also features the British record holder, David Grindley.

Sonia O'Sullivan takes on Yvonne Murray and Paula Radcliffe and Portugal's Fernanda Ribeiro over 5,000m, while the men's 1500m features Moses Kiptanui, the world 5,000m record holder, and Venuste Niyongabo, fastest in the world this year.

Most intriguingly, Jonathan Edwards tries again to jump over 18m in the triple jump against a field that includes all his main rivals.

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