WITH temperatures in the 90s breaking local records, the World Student Games open here today with the British team cautiously optimistic about their medal hopes.
Predictably, the Americans have a strong squad. Of their team, 15 members competed at the Barcelona Olympics and the Games, the biggest to date with some 7,000 competitors, may well turn into the USA v the Rest of the World. However, the Libyan team will not be taking part after the State Department refused them entry to the United States, despite an appeal from the organisers.
At the last World Student Games in Sheffield in 1991 Britain won four golds with the up-and-coming talent of Steve Backley stealing the limelight with a championship record in the javelin. There is no such obvious candidate for a British gold this year.
The athletics team is weakened by the absence of several leading medal prospects who, in the hope of securing places in the World Championship team in Stuttgart next month, have opted to compete at the AAA trials next week. The missing include Steve Smith (high jump), Curtis Robb (800m) and David Grindley (400m).
Nevertheless, the team contains five members of the Barcelona Olympics team, seven British champions and 14 members of the Sheffield Student Games squad. Brendan Reilly (high jump), Mike Edwards (pole vault), Michelle Griffith and Tosi Fasinro (both triple jump) are some of the more established names.
The opposition is also of a high quality, however. Frankie Fredericks, the Namibian who was a double silver medallist in Barcelona, will display his sprint talent along with the Barcelona 100m finalists, Olapade Adeniken and Davidson Ezinwa, of Nigeria.
The British football team, fresh from victory in an international tournament in France a fortnight ago, look to have a strong medal claim. Medals are also likely in rowing - perhaps Britain's strongest squad.
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