Chambers to prove a point in Birmingham
11 July 2008
Dwain Chambers plans to use his vast experience to outmanoeuvre his younger 100 metres rivals when the three-day UK National Championships and Olympic trials get under way in Birmingham tomorrow.
Chambers insists he will be fully focused on qualifying for Beijing and has put to the back of his mind the High Court challenge he is making next Wednesday against a British Olympic Association bylaw banning the reformed drugs cheats from the team.
Just as he did at February's World Indoor trials in Sheffield, when he thrashed most of the country's best young sprinters, the 30-year-old Londoner plans to make his top-level experience count to the full.
Chambers' competitors fell apart then in the face of his aggressiveness and gamesmanship as he hyped up the confrontation - bringing to mind how he was treated when first attempting to make his name on the international circuit.
His total confidence, as he strutted to his blocks with body language suggesting the 60m race was already won, wound up the entire field and most noticeably 21-year-old Craig Pickering.
Before their clash in the final, Pickering was being talked about as a possible world indoor champion, but found himself left in his blocks when Chambers erupted and powered away for the easiest of victories.
"This is what it's all about," said Chambers, himself battle hardened after learning his trade from some of the world's greatest sprinters, each one highly trained at unsettling their opponents.
Pickering in particular looked shellshocked after crossing the line, although it was later learned he had been suffering from a virus and diarrhoea.
Chambers insisted: "What he went through, having to deal with the likes of myself, is what I had to go through myself in the days of Maurice Greene and other athletes.
"It's a new ball game for him and he'll learn a lot from that."
Sending a message to every Olympic contender before tomorrow's 100m heats, Chambers added: "It's part and parcel of being an athlete dealing with pressure - and this is only the beginning."
While Chambers, who shot to the top of the UK rankings with a time of 10.05seconds in Sofia last week, will start favourite, the trials often bring out the best in everyone.
Tyrone Edgar, who is only one hundredth of a second slower than Chambers, will be hoping he has overcome a back injury picked up by running into a shot putter on the warm-up track in Lille a fortnight ago.
If he can keep his nerve and not jump the gun, Simeon Williamson, who beat Pickering for last year's European Under-23 gold medal, will also be a contender.
Harry Aikines-Aryeetey, the 2006 world junior champion who is eager to return to the Chinese capital where he earned that success, must be ranked an outsider for a podium place on current form.
Then there is Pickering, who after a delayed start to his season with a hamstring injury will be hoping he has enough energy to last three rounds and clinch an individual slot.
Marlon Devonish, apart from Chambers the most experienced of the British sprinters, won both the 100m and 200m last year and is again a double contender, and will be at the forefront of the contest.
Should Chambers win or finish second, it seems unlikely the three 100m selections will be announced on Monday with the first wave of the squad - common-sense dictating it would be best to await the result of his application for a temporary lifting of his BOA ban.
That will be a prelude to the full hearing of his case next March, which will challenge the BOA's right to exclude athletes from Olympic competition for life if they have used performance-enhancing drugs, unless there are mitigating circumstances.
The weekend's action will see all of the country's likely Olympic medallists in action minus, of course, the injured Paula Radcliffe who is fighting a race against the clock to get fully fit for the marathon.
News from her French Pyrenees base suggests she is running and training well at a high intensity, although she still needs another a couple of weeks before announcing her decision on Beijing.
Tomorrow night will see last summer's world 400m silver medallist Nicola Sanders in action, but Christine Ohuruogu, who beat her in a thriller in Osaka and is confident she will be given a place, will race over 200m.
Kelly Sotherton, who could pull off a heptathlon victory in Beijing, will test herself in four events while Phillips Idowu, another gold medal possibility, competes in the triple jump on Sunday.
Jo Pavey, over 5000m, Jade Johnson, who has bounced back to become a long jump contender after a couple of listless seasons, and javelin star Goldie Sayers will also be in action that day.
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