Dean Macey maintained his challenge for a World Championship decathlon medal here last night as he went within 10 centimetres of his best-ever pole vault, recording 4.70 metres in the eighth of the 10 disciplines. However his terrible luck with injuries continued in the penultimate event, the javelin, when his efforts were undermined by an elbow injury which restricted him to a throw of 54.61m, almost 10m down on his best.
His misfortune was only gain for the leading pair, Erki Nool and Tomas Dvorak who, barring catastrophe in their javelin throws, look certain to battle it out for gold and silver in today's final event, the 1500m. Macey, with a huge lead of 233 points over the fourth-placed Lev Lobodin, can take consolation from a likely bronze medal.
The 23-year-old Canvey Island athlete, who had been in doubt about his participation here until just three weeks before competition began because of a hamstring injury, had begun the day with his left thigh heavily strapped. But fears that he may have to scratch from the event were eventually calmed by his performance in the 100m hurdles. Despite recording two false starts, which meant he had no more room for error, he recorded a personal best of 14.34 seconds to the evident relief of British supporters who included his mother, father, sister and girlfriend.
He was nevertheless unable to maintain the one-point lead over the defending champion, Dvorak, which he had carried into the second day, as the Czech athlete moved ahead of him following a hurdles time of 13.80sec, although Macey had stayed in contention with a discus throw of 46.96m, close to his personal best.
The British misfortune with injuries was not confined to the decathlon. Dwain Chambers, fifth in Sunday's 100 metres final, had high hopes for the 200 metres here, especially as the 100m champion, Maurice Greene, and the 1997 world champion, Ato Boldon, had both withdrawn. But despite qualifying in his opening heat in 20.80sec, the 23-year-old Londoner promptly announced that he was not fit enough to continue in the event after injuring his left hamstring.
Chambers said that he hoped, by withdrawing from the 200m, that he would be fit in time to run in the 4x100m relay, which begins on Saturday.
There was further bad news when Du'aine Thorne-Ladejo had to withdraw from the 400 metres hurdles heats after injuring himself in the warm up.
Elsewhere, the controversial topic of Olga Yegorova, whose doping suspension was lifted at the weekend because of an irregularity in the testing procedure, was addressed once again by Arne Ljungqvist, a senior vice-president of the International Association of Athletics Federations and head of its doping commission.
Ljungqvist confirmed that the Russian had been targeted for a further out-of-competition test by the IAAF following the mishandling of the test taken in Paris on 6 July, indicating that she had used the banned blood-booster EPO.
"We made a full test on her and her initial blood test was borderline,'' Ljungqvist said. "That might change due to EPO use, although it could be down to other factors.''
He added that her was one of between seven to 10 cases referred onwards for a urine test out of 30 to 40 tests which had been carried out. The results, he said, were expected before Yegorova was due to run in the 5,000m heats tomorrow.
Ljungqvist admitted, however, that urine tests could only show up the use of EPO in a relatively short period before the sample was taken. "If an athlete stopped taking it, it could be undetectable in the body three days later, although you can never tell as all cases are individual.''
It remains to be seen whether Yegorova's sample will show up recent use of EPO. If she is cleared to run in what has been one of the most embarrassing and ill-timed sagas the IAAF has had to endure in recent years, it will raise once again the threat of a boycott issued by the Olympic 5,000m champion Gabriela Szabo, who said she would refuse to run if the Russian took part.
Meanwhile Britain's Minister for Sport, Richard Caborn, has been here to reassure the IAAF of Britain's commitment to staging the 2005 World Championships, although he refused to confirm that they would be held in London.
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