Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

They're Looking Good as Gold

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

They're Looking Good as Gold

Article excerpt

Byline: By Jim van WijkThe Journal

Victories by four of Britain's Olympic medal hopefuls helped atone for a disappointing display by the 100 metres sprinters in the Norwich Union London Grand Prix at a sweltering Crystal Palace last night.

Kelly Holmes, Chris Rawlinson, triple jumper Phillips Idowu and Jade Johnson, in the long jump, all scored brilliant victories.

But the three Olympic 100m selections ( Mark Lewis-Francis, Darren Campbell and Jason Gardener ( all failed to make their final, where Jamaica's Asafa Powell blew everyone away with a season's-best run of 9.91 seconds ( a UK all-comers' record.

However, their shortcomings were soon forgotten as Olympic medal hope Holmes hit the front in the back straight before kicking for home over 1,500m, winning in 4min 04.06sec.

It was also a fine night's work for Rawlinson, who held off the challenge of top American James Carter to take the 400m hurdles, while Idowu made a season's best of 17.47m with his final triple jump leap.

2002 European silver medalist Johnson led from start to finish, with 6.65m enough for victory to maintain hopes that she can improve on her fourth place at last year's IAAF World Championships.

There was, though, no fairy tale ending for Steve Backley, Britain's great javelin thrower, bowing out with a second-place finish on home soil ( his season's-best 83.42m not enough to beat Andreas Thorkildsen of Norway, who threw 84.45m.

Lewis-Francis, the world junior champion in 2000, said: "I ran terribly. It was an off-day. My training has been going fine, so I don't really know why I ran like that."

Gardener, who ran 10.32secs in his qualifier, said: "I'm not quite where I need to be yet, but I still have to be pleased with where I am."

Powell will also be happy with the way things are progressing as he bids to take Maurice Greene's Olympic crown.

After coming home 0.06secs ahead of the American, with Leonard Scott of the US (10.04) third and world champion Kim Collins fifth in 10.14, he said: "That gave me a lot of confidence.

"Maurice was Olympic champion last time, but I hope to beat him this year as I have beaten him today. …

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