World Athletics Championships: Gold fantasy is fulfilled by Jackson

Britain gains quick international reward for performance in Seville
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The Independent Online
HALF A MILE down the road from the Estadio Olimpico is a children's theme park, by the name of the Isla Magica, in which paying guests can visit El Dorado. But the idea of coming away from Seville laden with gold was not even a fantasy for the British team. With only one outdoor global title to their credit in the last six years - courtesy of Jonathan Edwards's triple jump gold at the 1995 World Championships - the realistic assessment was that a title, even one, would be hugely welcome, but not expected.

Just as his predecessor as Britain's chief coach, Malcolm Arnold, had done before the 1997 World Championships in Athens, the current incumbent, Max Jones, had spoken longingly of his wish for just one gold medal. Colin Jackson obliged with his hugely experienced performance in the 110 metres hurdles, where he reclaimed the title he had first won six years earlier thanks to a dip finish that almost caused him to lose his balance.

It was a finely calculated performance from the Welshman, who now goes forward to next season seeking the only major title missing from his collection - the Olympics. Jackson's renaissance, which follows his own personal Dark Ages in 1995 and 1996, was the obvious British highlight of the nine days of competition that comprised the seventh International Amateur Athletic Federation World Championships, but there were plenty of other pluses.

Following last year's European Championships in Budapest, where the British came away with a record nine gold medals, domestic enthusiasm for a sport that had been in financial and moral disarray the previous year was rekindled.

Peak television audiences for Seville, into which BBC Sport put huge resources, almost matched the levels they had reached in Budapest, going past the eight million mark. But the global nature of the challenge meant that expectations had to be scaled down when it came to gold, silver and bronze.

Before the championships began, Jones estimated that there are around a dozen British medal contenders. "If we are unlucky, we will get around four or five," he said. "If things go well, like they did in last year's European Championships in Budapest, it will be eight or nine."

By that criterion, things went well, given that the final medal tally was seven - gold for Jackson, silver for Denise Lewis in the heptathlon, Paula Radcliffe in the 10,000m, the men's 4x100m relay team and Dean Macey in the decathlon, bronze for Jonathan Edwards in the triple jump and Dwain Chambers in the 100m.

Britain's revived standing in the world of athletics was underlined at the weekend by the IAAF announcement - or rather, that of the organisation's autocratic president, Primo Nebiolo - that Britain will host the 2005 World Championships, and that the main British grand prix meeting, which the federation threatened to downgrade to the Nationwide Second Division status of a grand prix II rating last season, has now been promoted to the Premiership, namely the IAAF Golden League.

Both announcements have taken UK Athletics aback, given that it was not expected to be deliberated upon until next spring. But UK Athletics, for all the bewilderment of its chief executive, Dave Moorcroft, is not about to look two gift horses in the mouth.

As a pointer for next year's Olympic Games, the championships have been encouraging. All the medallists will be proceeding with hope in their hearts, none more so than Macey, the 21-year-old from Canvey Island whose unexpected success in the decathlon, coupled with his naturally winning, cocky personality, have established him as a newcomer of huge potential on the international scene.

Macey is convinced he can go one better in Sydney next year against of field of athletes who had little idea who he was when he arrived in the Estadio Olimpico. Chris Huffins, the American whom Macey overtook for the silver by dint of a 1500 metres featuring a last lap of 60 seconds, said in effect afterwards that although the young Briton had done well, he was not going to catch the big guys off guard again.

Macey, for his part, played down any such notion. "They cannot put me under anything like the pressure I put myself under by my standards," he said, after a performance which emphasised that these were not idle words.

From an international point of view, these will always be the championships where Michael Johnson made 400 metres history by destroying the 11-year- old world record set by his compatriot Butch Reynolds, lowering the mark from 43.29sec to 43.18 - and stating in his calm, matter-of-fact way afterwards that he had always believed he would run sub-43 seconds for the event, and still intended to before he retired.

The spate of positive doping cases within the sport had got the championships off to a cloudy start. "In the last couple of weeks, our beautiful and lovely sport has been marred," said the defending 100m champion, Marion Jones, on the eve of her competition. "We can only hope that our wonderful performances in the next few days will overshadow everything that has happened."

Jones, whose own ambitions of earning an unprecedented four titles here were frustrated by injury at the point where she had earned gold for the 100m and bronze for the long jump, expressed a general wish which, in broad terms, came to pass.

The doping cases will grind on, of course. But the sport has enjoyed a particularly fine vintage of celebration at these World Championships.

MEDAL WINNERS IN SEVILLE

MEN

100m: 1 M Greene (US); 2 B Surin (Can); 3 D Chambers (GB).

200m: 1 M Greene (US); 2 C Q Da Silva (Bra); 3 B F Obikwelu (Nigeria).

400m: 1 M Johnson (US); 2 S C Parrela (Bra); 3 A Cardenas (Mex).

800m: 1 W Kipketer (Den); 2 H Sepeng (SA); 3 D Said-Guerni (Alg).

1,500m: 1 H El Guerrouj (Mor); 2 N Ngeny (Kenya); 3 R Estevez (Sp).

5,000m: 1 S Hissou (Mor); 2 B Limo (Kenya); 3 M Mourhit (Bel).

10,000m: 1 H Gebrselassie (Eth); 2 P Tergat (Kenya); 3 A Mezgebu (Eth).

Marathon: 1 A Anton (Sp); 2 V Modica (It); 3 K Sato (Japan).

3,000m steeplechase: 1 C Koskei (Kenya); 2 W B Kipketer (Kenya); 3 A Ezzine (Mor).

110m hurdles: 1 C Jackson (GB); 2 A Garcia (Cuba); 3 D Ross (US).

400m hurdles: 1 F Mori (It); 2 S Diagana (Fr); 3 M Schelbert (Swit).

High jump: 1 V Voronin (Rus); 2 M Boswell (Can); 3 Martin Buss (Ger).

Pole vault: 1 M Tarasov (Rus); 2 D Markov (Aus); 3 A Averbukh (Isr).

Long jump: 1 I Pedroso (Cuba); 2 Y Lamela (Sp); 3 G Cankar (Sloven).

Triple jump: 1 C M Friedek (Ger); 2 R Dimitrov (Bul); 3 J Edwards (GB).

Shot put: 1 C J Hunter (US); 2 O Buder (Ger); 3 A Bagach (Ukr).

Discus: 1 A Washington (US); 2 J Schult (Ger); 3 L Riedel (Ger).

Hammer: 1 K Kobs (Ger); 2 Z Nemeth (Hung); 3 V Piskunov (Ukr).

Javelin: 1 A Parviainen (Fin); 2 K Gatsioudis (Gr); 3 J Zelezny (Cz Rep).

Decathlon: 1 T Dvorak (Cz Rep); 2 D Macey (GB); 3 C Huffins (US).

20km walk: 1 I Markov (Rus); 2 J Perez (Ecu); 3 D Garcia (Mex).

50km walk: 1 G Skurygin (Rus); 2 I Brugnetti (It); 3 N Matyukhin (Rus).

4x100m relay: 1 USA; 2 Great Britain; 3 Nigeria.

4x400m relay: 1 USA; 2 Poland; 3 Jamaica.

WOMEN

100m: 1 M Jones (US); 2 I Miller (US); 3 E Thanou (Gr).

200m: 1 I Miller (US); 2 B McDonald (Jam); 3= M Frazer (Jam); A Philipp (Ger).

400m: 1 C Freeman (Aus); 2 A Ruecker (Ger); 3 L Graham (Jam).

800m: 1 L Formanova (Cz Rep); 2 M L Mutola (Moz); 3 S Masterkova (Rus).

1,500m: 1 S Masterkova (Rus); 2 R Jacobs (US); 3 K Dulecha (Eth).

5,000m: 1 G Szabo (Rom); 2 Z Ouaziz (Mor); 3 A Worku (Eth).

10,000m: 1 G Wami (Eth); 2 P Radcliffe (GB); 3 T Loroupe (Ken).

Marathon: 1 Jong Song-ok (N Kor); 2 A Ichihashi (Japan); 3 L Slavuteanu- Simon (Rom).

100m hurdles: 1 G Devers (US); 2 G Alozie (Nigeria); 3 L Engquist (Swe).

400m hurdles: 1 D Pernia (Cuba); 2 N Bidouane (Mor); 3 D Hemmings (Jam).

High jump: 1 I Babakova (Ukr); 2 Y Yelesina (Rus); 3 S Lapina (Rus).

Pole vault: 1 S Dragila (US); 2 A Balakhonova (Ukr); 3 T Grigorieva (Aus).

Long jump: 1 N Montalvo (Sp); 2 F May (It); 3 M Jones (US).

Triple jump: 1 P Tsiamita (Gr); 2 Y Aldama (Cuba); 3 O-A Vasdeki (Gr).

Shot put: 1 A Kumbernuss (Ger); 2 N Kleinert (Ger); 3 S Krivelyova (Rus).

Discus: 1 F Dietzsch (Ger); 2 A Kelesidou (Gr); 3 N Grasu (Rom).

Hammer: 1 M Melinte (Rom); 2 O Kuzenkova (Rus); 3 L Misipeka (American Samoa).

Javelin: 1 M Manjani-Tzelili (Gr); 2 T Shikolenko (Rus); 3 T Solbert- Hattestad (Nor).

Heptathlon: 1 E Barber (Fr); 2 D Lewis (GB); 3 G Shouaa (Syria).

20km walk: 1 Liu Hongyu (China); 2 Wang Yan (China); 3 K Saxby-Junna (Aus).

4x100m relay: 1 Bahamas; 2 France; 3 Jamaica.

4x400m relay: 1 Russia; 2 USA; 3 Germany

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