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UK Athletics

Asafa Powell equals World Record

History was made in the Norwich Union British Grand Prix at Gateshead on Sunday 11 June as, in virtually tropical conditions, Jamaica's Asafa Powell equalled the world 100m record of 9.77sec he shared with Justin Gatlin - who controversially withdrew from this meeting a fortnight ago - and Dwain Chambers made a startling comeback after a two-year doping ban by taking third place in the Men's 100m final clocking a remarkable 10.07sec.

Although the record is still shared officially, the details of the timing revealed that Powell became the fastest man ever yesterday in terms of legal timings. Just under a year after he first clocked 9.77sec in Athens he ran 9.762sec, marginally quicker than the time of 9.766sec Gatlin
produced in Doha on May 18. Powell's performance easily surpassed the previous all-comers' record of 9.89 recorded by Gatlin in London last year, when the Jamaican pulled up after barely 10 metres with a groin injury that kept him out of the subsequent World Championships.
In the event, Gatlin's stated reasons for pulling out - that the event was too early, and that it would be too cold - have been made to look absurd.

The two rivals are now expected to meet at the Norwich Union London Grand Prix on July 28.
Powell maintained the prediction had had made earlier in the week that he could probably run 9.70sec this season. 'I'm going to keep what I said. I'm going to go for it. Yes, it's possible.' Chambers's finished ahead of domestic rivals Marlon Devonish, fourth in 10.16, Mark Lewis-Francis, fifth in 10.20 and 17-year-old Harry Aikines-Aryeetey, who was eighth in 10.38. It set the seal on his readmittance to the athletics mainstream after eight months spent training in Jamaica and wrangling over prize money owed to the international and domestic authorities after his admission that he had taken THG before the period for which he served punishment.
'I never thought I would have another day like this,' he said. 'I was encouraged by the reception I got from the British crowd. The past has gone, and I'm looking forward to the future. I didn't expect anything much from this season, but I have proved through my ups and downs that I can still keep my focus and run fast.'

Rebecca Lyne produced the other outstanding British performances of the day as she moved to third on the all-time domestic 800 metres lists with a time of 1min 58.20sec in finishing second to Kenya's Commonwealth champion Janeth Jepkosgei, who recorded a national record of 1.57.22.
Lyne had taken more than a second off her personal best by winning at Hengelo a fortnight earlier in 2.00.04, and followed up by taking second place at last Friday week's Oslo Golden League meeting in 2.00.68.

The only Britons to have run faster than her now are Kirsty Wade, with 1.57.42, and Kelly Holmes - remember her? - with the national record of 1.56.21. 'I knew I was running well and to get just over two minutes recently I was pleased. So to get 1.58.20 is just fantastic!' Lyne said. It was a memorable race for several of Lyne's domestic rivals, as two of them - Jenny Meadows and Marilyn Okoro - also earned personal bests. Meadows was fifth in 2.00.16, a place ahead of Okoro, who clocked 2.00.57, with Jemma Simpson seventh in 2.01.39.

The men's long jump turned up a grandstand-pleasing finale as Britain's leading exponents, Nathan Morgan and Chris Tomlinson, headed the rankings going into the last round with 8.00m jumps, only to see Brazil's Jade Gregorio come through to win with a last round effort of 8.05.
'I've just had a second baby so I haven't had too much rest recently,' said Morgan, who finished second on countback. 'To do 8.00m and a number in the 90s is very pleasing. I've been a bit ill as well, so I am very proud. And it's good to beat Chris, you know. I just lost it at the end, but
Gregorio is a big guy. I finished the competition in one piece - that's the main thing.'

Tomlinson maintained afterwards that his main focus was the European Championships in August. 'I want to win it,' said the Middlesbrough athlete. 'If I'm not looking towards first place at the Europeans I've got to question my mental approach. I couldn't quite get my run-up in place until the end. But I was very happy to break the eight-metre barrier today. Very encouraging signs.'
The women's long jump was clearer cut from a domestic point of view as European silver medallist Jade Johnson could only manage 6.29m for seventh place and Kelly Sotherton, the Commonwealth heptathlon champion, took second place with a season's best of 6.67 behind Russia's world champion, Tatyana Lebedeva, who jumped 6.95m.

Jo Pavey made a characteristically brave attempt to seize the initiative in the 3,000 metres, going to the front with three laps remaining, but she could not rid herself of a trail of talented African runners, and soon after the bell she found herself being passed by four runners, with Ethiopia's world 5,000m champion Tirunesh Dibaba winning in 8min 42.04sec. Pavey had to settle for fifth place in 8.49.54.

'I am not pleased with the time today, but it was just a case of getting a race under my belt,' Pavey said. 'It was a big ask coming here and racing these sort of girls, but you just have to get on with it. I gave it a go and with these athletes it does not matter what pace they run they still have a sprint at the finish. It's a case of more training for me now before the European Cup.'
Tasha Danvers-Smith also appeared to have ensured her place in the European Cup this month by winning the 400m hurdles in a season's best of 54.85sec from Jamaica's Kaliese Spencer, who clocked 55.61. Lee McConnell was fifth in 57.10sec.

There was disappointment in the 400 metres for Robert Tobin, who - carrying an injury - could only manage seventh place in 46.13sec in a race won by Grenada's Alleyne Francique in 44.94.
Abi Oyepitan, who made her comeback at the Oslo Grand Prix on June 2 after 19 months out injured, found the going predictably hot in the 100 metres, where she finished seventh in 11.55. Torri Edwards of the United States won in 11.06.

Chris Clarke (Marshall Milton Keynes) lined up in the Spar Sprints U17 100 metres event in order to sharpen up for his main events of the 200 and 400 metres. The plan worked out beautifully as he lowered his personal best from 10.96sec to a superb 10.74 seconds despite a headwind of 1.6 metres per second. And that was despite the fact that he had run a extra 60 metres beforehand alongside Middlesbrough runner Richard Kilty until he realised that there had been a false start.

'I heard the crowd saying 'Stop, Stop' ' said Clarke, who has trained recently with his Milton Keynes clubmate Craig Pickering, the European Junior Champion. 'I was quite tired when I got back to the block, so I was very pleased with how I did. It was out of the blue, really. But I knew I was in
good form because I won the 200m at the County schools championship yesterday in 21.8.'
Olufumni Sobudu (Worthing) was second in 10.90, with James Alaka, of Blackheath, third in a personal best of 10.96.
Clarke will now look forward with renewed confidence to running his main
events at the English Schools Championships next month.

That will also be the target for the winner of the girls' Under 17 100 metres, Shaunna Thompson. Like Clarke, the Sale Harrier was only charpening up for her specialist event, the 200m, but she took 0.02sec off her personal best to win in 12.00sec, well clear of her nearest challenger,
clubmate Robyn Rashford.

'I want to break 12 seconds next,' said Thompson, from the Newton Heath area of Manchester. 'But I want to concentrate more on the 200 metres at the English Schools Championships.'