sprinters

sprinters
   Sprinting—from 100 to 400 metres—is a chequered section of British athletics. Lack of money for training and facilities in Britain is contrasted with the USA, where there are specialist programmes in Los Angeles and other locations. However, between 1987 and 1993 British sprinting did very well. During these years Britain’s 100 metre hopes were pinned on Linford Christie. He won silver medals at the 1988 Olympics, gold at the 1992 Olympics; and, in 1993, he won the world championship. His British 100 metre record of 9.87 seconds (at Stuttgart in 1993) is only just outside the world record held by Donovan Bailey of Canada. Christie captained the British Athletics team from 1992 onwards and led the team to gain twenty-three major championship medals. Disqualification at the Atlanta Olympics and withdrawal from the World Championships in Gothenburg (1996) with a hamstring injury marked his decline.
   Among the best known women sprinters is Sally Gunnell. She won the 100 metres at Zurich in 1988 with a time of 12.82, and the 400 metre hurdles at Stuttgart in 1993 in a time of 52.74. She won a gold medal in the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games. Both Linford Christie and Sally Gunnell announced their retirements at the 1997 Athens Olympics and in June 1998, having both previously been awarded MBEs, they were also awarded OBEs for their services to athletics. It is generally felt that they represent a ‘golden age’ of sprinting which will be very hard to recreate.
   Some, including Malcolm Arnold, Britain’s chief coach, insist that things will not improve until the arrival of the £2.6m (of the £4.3m bid for) promised through the National Lottery to set up a national coaching and athletes’ services scheme. However there are some optimistic straws in the wind. Through the ex-hurdler and multi-millionaire Alan Pascoe, Nivea in 1998 offered £100,000 annual sponsorship for three years. This covers a series of three races for 100 metres runners (the British Sprint Challenge). It takes place at Bedford, Gateshead and Sheffield. The final carries £25,000 in prize money, including £10,000 for the winner. There are also hopes for the future in the performances of, among others, heptathlon athlete Denise Lewis, Allison Curbishley and Dwain Chambers, who holds the world 100 metres junior record. Roger Black, Mark Richardson, Jamie Baulch and Iwan Thomas formed the relay quartet who won silver medals behind the Americans at the world championships, although Black has since retired.
   MIKE STORRY

Encyclopedia of contemporary British culture . . 2014.

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