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Athletics preview - 28 July


On the busiest day of track and field at the Games, most eyes will be on Jonathan Edwards (ENG) as he bids to complete a grand slam of triple-jump titles.

Jana Pittman

Jana Pittman will be looking for glory in the 400m

In a straight final, Olympic, World and European champion Edwards, 36, will start the competition as overwhelming favourite in the 13-strong field.

Another Englishman, Phillips Idowu, is expected to pose the toughest challenge to the Gateshead athleteís superiority. Idowu, who cuts a striking figure with his wild hair colours, will be keen to repeat his performance from Sheffield on Sunday, 30 June, this year, when he inflicted a rare defeat on the out-of-sorts world record holder.

However, Edwards has since returned to form, and while Brian Wellman (BER) and Andrew Murphy (AUS) will both be in the hunt for medals, it will be a major surprise if they, along with IDOWU, are jumping for anything higher than silver.

Paula Radcliffe (ENG), this yearís London Marathon winner, goes in search of her first major track championship gold in the 5,000m. Radcliffe, 28, who recently broke her own Commonwealth 3,000m record in Monte Carlo, is expected to dispute the Commonwealth crown principally with Kenyaís Edith Masai.

Benita Johnson, who broke the Australian record earlier this year, should also be in contention while Bristol athlete Jo Pavey (ENG) may need to improve her personal best of 14.58 if she is to figure among the medals.

Both Menís and Womenís Marathons get under way in the morning, with Kenya expected to dominate the former. The withdrawal of favourite Simon Biwott has left his team-mates Eric Wainana and Joshua Chelanga as favourites for gold and silver.

Kerry McCann (AUS), 11th in the 2000 Olympic Games, is tipped to lead the field home in the womenís event, but Englandís Marian Sutton, twice winner of the Chicago Marathon, could threaten.

Back on the track, local athlete Darren Campbell (ENG) gets his 200m campaign underway with two rounds of qualifying. He is joined by compatriots Marlon Devonish and Chris Lambert, and Walesí Christian Malcolm, a Commonwealth runner-up four years ago.

They should dominate the early stages, along with four-time Olympic silver medallist Frankie Fredericks (NAM), who opted out of the 100m to concentrate on this event.

The Womenís 400m Hurdles final promises a close battle between the world junior champion Jana Pittman (AUS) and the Jamaican duo Deon Hemmings and Debbie-Ann Parris. Pittman, 19, was quickest in the semi-finals with a personal best time of 54.14.

Other finals on the programme include the Menís and Womenís 400m, the Menís Hammer and the Womenís Shot.

Info News Service/jc/sm/pjt

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