Athletics: Charge of the Brummie brigade

Simon Turnbull
Sunday 09 March 2003 01:00

Daniel Caines is the only Briton at the top of the world indoor rankings but not the only home athlete challenging for a place on top of the medal rostrum at the world indoor championships.

Indeed, he is not the only gold-medal prospect even from his Birmingham club, Birchfield Harriers.

Ashia Hansen, born in the United States, raised in London but resident in England's "second city" – won the triple- jump title in Maebashi, Japan, four years ago and will start as favourite. Yamile Aldama heads the world rankings with 17.88m, but the Cuban is awaiting British citizenship and will not be competing. Adeline Gavrila will, and having jumped 14.76m, 5cm farther than Hansen this year, the Romanian could pose the biggest threat to the adopted Brummie.

Mark Lewis-Francis is a Black Country boy rather than a Brummie. He lives in Darlaston, near Wolverhampton, but he was born in Birmingham, is a member of Birchfield Harriers and, at the age of 20, will be looking for his second world indoor medal, having finished third in the 60m in Lisbon two years ago. The in-form Briton in the event is Bath's Jason Gardener, who took the bronze medal in Maebashi. He has two 6.49sec clockings this season, but two US sprinters have run quicker: Justin Gatlin (6.45) and Terrence Trammell (6.46).

Trammell also boasts a time of 7.42sec for the 60m hurdles and is one of a trio of overseas athletes threatening to poop Colin Jackson's retirement party. The American Allen Johnson has run 7.39sec and the Cuban Anier Garcia has clocked 7.47sec. Jackson's unofficial best is 7.49sec.

If the presence of Maria Mutola, Jolanda Ceplak and Steffi Graf pushes the in-form Jo Fenn out of the medal frame in the 800m, Kelly Holmes could fare better against less formidable opposition at 1500m. Then there is Jonathan Edwards's quest for the one triple-jump title missing from his collection. Christian Olsson, the Swede who beat him to European gold last summer, might not be the only threat. American Tim Rusan heads the world rankings with 17.45m.

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