Listening to Dwain Chambers talk yesterday it was hard to equate him with the athlete who staggered in distress out of the Commonwealth Games 100 metres final just over six months ago.
Since that moment when his calf cramped up and his morale went into free-fall, the 24-year-old Londoner has transformed himself as a force in world sprinting, a force he intends to demonstrate in Birmingham's National Indoor Arena tomorrow evening as he contests the Norwich Union Grand Prix 60m against a field that includes his main domestic rivals, Jason Gardener and Mark Lewis-Francis.
There are only two 60m places available for Britain in next month's World Indoor Championships at the same venue, and Chambers is clearly set on one of them. But that is not all.
Yesterday he happily reiterated his reported comments that his plan this season is to run the 100m in 9.65 seconds, a comfortable stride inside Tim Montgomery's world record of 9.78. "You heard it from the horse's mouth,'' he commented with a wide grin. "And I'll say it again.'' Chambers was equally up-front when it came to forecasting his domestic confrontation tomorrow in what will be his first competitive outing since recovering from the hamstring injury that shortened his winter training break in California.
"I believe I will run between 6.44 and 6.36 seconds,'' he said. That would be more than a tenth of a second faster than the leading Briton this year, Gardener, has managed; indeed, the world indoor record stands at 6.39. Chambers has talked the talk before – as when he announced after beating the world and Olympic champion, Maurice Greene, in Sheffield last season: "There's a new sheriff in town.'' But, after finishing the season with the European title and a time of 9.87sec that equalled Linford Christie's nine-year-old European record, he can claim to be walking the walk as well.
The question now is has he taken a step too far? The basis for Chambers' new sense of self-worth appears to stem from his relationship with the American coach who took over his technical preparation just over a year ago, Remy Korchemny. "Remy believes the human body can achieve a time of 9.65, providing you put the whole race together. And he believes I'm the one that could do that... I would like to start by running consistently in the low 9.80s and then breaking into the 9.70s before the World Championships.'
Chambers' new confidence in himself is also apparent when he is asked to evaluate the controversial false start rule which has been introduced this year. The new rulingallows for one false start in a race after which any other false starter is disqualified.
''It's a silly rule,'' Chambers said. "It's one thing having it in grand prix meetings, but for major championships, no way... If one of the major contenders gets disqualified at a World Championships, what are they going to do? I wouldn't walk away. I would stand my ground. All the other athletes have the same view.''
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