Darren Campbell's cherished hopes of running at the Commonwealth Games in the stadium that stands just 10 miles from the house in which he was brought up hung perilously in the balance last night as he was forced to scratch from the 200 metres at the Aqua-Pura English trials here because of illness.
The 28-year-old Olympic silver medallist, who could only finish fifth in Saturday's 100m finals, made his decision after being told yesterday morning that a blood test had confirmed he was suffering from a chest infection.
The reversal of fortune occurred just as Campbell appeared to have got himself back into shape following the leg injuries that had undermined his progress since Sydney.
The selectors, who were due to meet last night, plan to announce their team tomorrow after athletes have been informed by post, although they can leave spaces available if circumstances dictate.
Campbell, coughing frequently, said he was asking the selectors to give him extra time to show his fitness. "I'm saying to them: 'if my Olympic silver medal means anything, and the times I've already run this year, give me a chance to show my fitness'.
"If I don't get selected, there is not a lot I can do about it. But if I had gone out there today and died on the track, that would have been an end of it. I couldn't afford to go out and do myself so much harm that my whole season would have been over.
"If I don't get a place I'll be ready for the European trials in four weeks' time. Apart from this virus, I'm in better shape than I was at the Olympics and I've worked too hard to throw it all away. There is a lot more to come from Darren Campbell.
"But I'm not going to try and smooth it all over. I will be distraught if I can't go out and perform here in front of the home crowd. But I will be even more upset if I don't have a chance to prove my fitness."
Campbell, who has lost half-a-stone since becoming unwell 10 days ago, said that the forthcoming Norwich Union Classic at Sheffield on 30 June would be a good time for him to show he had made a full recovery.
The 200m was won in 20.36sec by Marlon Devonish with Chris Lambert second in 20.41. Graham Beasley, third in a personal best of 20.76, will have to await for the selectors' discretion along with Campbell.
Campbell's chances of getting the third discretionary 200m place for the Games which starts in the City of Manchester Stadium in six week's time had appeared even more bleak when Dwain Chambers, who set a British seasonal and personal best of 20.27 in Athens last Monday, elected not to run the longer sprint. But Chambers, winner of Saturday's 100m trial, confirmed he was not planning to double up at the Commonwealth Games, preferring to go for both sprints in the European Championships that immediately follow them.
"Darren would love to run in Manchester but he needs to think carefully," Chambers said. "He might be better to concentrate on the European Championships because these trials and the Commonwealth have come a bit to soon for him. He went through a rough time last year, and now this."
Jo Fenn, who recently secured a record deal and recorded her first single, added another accomplishment to her CV as won the 800m in 2min 0.24sec, a personal best by two seconds. Fenn's time was just outside the British 2002 best of 2.00.17 set by Kelly Holmes, who missed these trials with a virus.
A viral problem was also sighted as the reason for Jon Mayock's absence in the 1500m. The Commonwealth silver medallist is a proven competitor at international level, but after recent poor performances he will be relying heavily upon the selectors' memories if he is to get selection ahead of the first three home in yesterday's final – the European Indoor bronze medallist Michael East, winner in 3:46.89, Tony Whiteman and Tom Mayo.
Janine Whitlock's collection of Rover cars – the prize for those breaking British records in recent televised meetings – continues to grow. She gained another by increasing her pole vault mark to 4.41m.
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies