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Gardener to lead Powell

6 June 2006
www.gazettelive.co.uk

Olympic sprint relay gold medallist Jason Gardener will lead the British challenge against joint world record holder Asafa Powell at the Norwich Union British Grand Prix in Gateshead on Sunday.

Gardener is looking to bounce back after his injury problems at the Commonwealth Games.

British Olympic sprint relay gold medallists Darren Campbell, Marlon Devonish and Mark Lewis-Francis will also take part in the 100m in Gateshead, which will be run as two heats and a final.

Rapidly emerging talent Tim Abeyie has also been given a chance to shine against the big boys, with a place in the field.

The Norwich Union British Grand Prix will be a big test for all the British sprinters, who will already be thinking about the battle for places for the European Championships in Gothenburg.

Hexham middle-distance runner Nick McCormick is looking to lay down a marker for the European Championships in August when he takes on world No.2 Bernard Lagat in the 1500m.

Kenyan-born Lagat, who now runs for the United States, holds the third fastest 1500m time in history.

The 31-year-old competed at both the Sydney and Athens Olympics, winning bronze and silver respectively, but a switch of nationalities made him ineligible for last year's World Championships in Helsinki.

The US 1500m record holder will provide world-class competition, and motivation, for 24-year-old McCormick, who only broke into the international scene last year with victory in the 1500m at the World Trials in Manchester.

He said: "It will be fantastic to race against Lagat as I know he missed the World Championships as he was changing nationalities."

"Of course, he is a step ahead of me at the moment, he's one of the best runners in the world, especially now Hicham El Guerrouj has retired."

"I've just got to get as close to him as possible and get the best out of the race."

McCormick raced in Oslo last Friday, finishing sixth, and the outing provided useful preparation for the Morpeth Harrier ahead of Sunday's Grand Prix.

He added: "I didn't want to go into the Gateshead race cold. I've done a lot of training and I want to be able to run at Gateshead with one race in the bag."

The event returns to Gateshead after a two year break and John McElroy, the council's Cabinet member for culture, believes the presence of world class stars in the region will only help encourage participation in the sport.

He said: "Gateshead is welcoming top athletes from across the world and the Norwich Union Grand Prix is sure to be an event to remember."

"Many young people will be watching these athletes perform and I hope it will encourage some to follow in their footsteps."



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