Athletics: Campbell holds the key to victorious finale for Britain

Mike Rowbottom
Wednesday 15 January 2014 02:26
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If Britain's 18th European Championships are to have a golden conclusion tomorrow night, it may depend upon Darren Campbell making one final effort after the disappointment of being disqualified in Thursday night's 200 metres second round.

British team officials are counting upon the 28-year-old Manchester-born sprinter to lift himself for what will be the fifth and final leg of a double championship involvement. Having come away from the Commonwealth Games with a 200m bronze and 4x100m gold, Campbell has the opportunity to replicate the success from his home city, having already won the 100m bronze here.

With Dwain Chambers eager to add a second gold medal to the one he secured in Wednesday night's 100m final, the sprint relay team represent Britain's best chance of victory if they are at full strength.

"Darren is still very unhappy about what happened in the 200 metres, but he is beginning to rationalise it now," said Max Jones, UK Athletics' performance director yesterday. "He's seen the BBC tape of the incident. It was a mandatory disqualification for stepping over his line. But he's got an opportunity to finish off on a high note, and we certainly need him to be there for us."

Jones, whose forecast of 20 medal shots with a likely total of 14 now looks a little over-optimistic, believes the British team are suffering from having to complete a second major championship in six days.

"We are suffering from the Manchester-Munich syndrome," Jones said. "We have a lot of athletes who are feeling the strain of back-to-back championships and our physios are working overtime at the moment."

The 400m relay squad – including 400m hurdler Chris Rawlinson – have been getting particularly urgent attention from the physios in order to keep them in shape to challenge for a medal on the final night.

Britain's best hope outside the sprint relay could rest with the long jumper Chris Tomlinson, who qualified for the final with an effort of 7.81m yesterday.

That only leaves the 20-year-old Middlesbrough athlete as the 10th-highest of 12 qualifiers, but Jones believes the man who broke Lynn Davies's 34-year-old British record with a leap of 8.27m in April has the potential to raise his game when it counts.

"He's probably an outsider, because it is an outstandingly strong field," Jones said. "But he's got an 8.10 inside him right now and if he can just drag it out there could be a medal for him."

Tomlinson, who also won the European Cup title in Anneçy last month, has something to prove to himself after only managing sixth place at the Commonwealth Games in a final where his keen British rival, Nathan Morgan, rose to the challenge to claim the title. Morgan was unable to compete here because of a foot injury.

The chances of Britain's women making an impact in the sprint relay were lessened by the decision of Vernicha James, the newly installed world junior 200m champion, not to travel to Munich. Not good for immediate medal hopes, but a sensible long term move for one of our most promising athletes.

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