British Sprinters Get Set

BIRMINGHAM, England, July 24 (AFP) - The best ofBritain’s sprinters go head-to-head this weekend with aplace in next month’s world championship on the line.
The annual Amateur Athletics Association (AAA)championships, which get underway Friday evening, aredoubling up as world trials this year with the first twoin each event guaranteed a trip to Paris next month.
And there is no doubt that it is in the men’s sprintsthat competiton will be fiercest.
In the 100m, rising star Mark Lewis-Francis insists heis confident of clinching his place, despite competitionfrom European Champion Dwain Chambers, European IndoorChampion Jason Gardener and Olympic 200m medallistDarren Campbell.
Am I worried about missing out on the British team?Tell me how that is going to happen ?'' Lewis-Francissaid. The qualifiers will have to perform in three raceswith the heats, semi-finals and final all set forSaturday. That suits Lewis-Francis. Everybody knows that I am a different athlete whenit comes to a championship format,’’ the 20-year-oldsaid.
I am far better when I run rounds as it allows me tobuild my focus towards the final.'' The men's 200m sees Harvard graduate Chris Lambertreturn to home soil in confident mood. Lambert is the leading Briton in this year's rankingsfollowing his victory at the European Under-23Championships in Poland at the weekend, where he won the200m in a personal best of 20.34sec. Lambert faces tough opposition from Campbell, formerCommonwealth champion Julian Golding, former Europeanindoor and world junior champion Christian Malcolm,world indoor champion Marlon Devonish and Chambers, whois considering running both sprints at the worldchampionships. I may be top of the rankings right now, but in termsof personal bests I’m the slowest guy out of the topfive,’’ Lambert admitted.
The women’s events have been weakened by twohigh-profile withdrawals.
World marathon record holder Paula Radcliffe will notrun the 5,000m because of a bout of bronchitis which hascast doubt on whether she will be able to run the10,000m in Paris.
Katharine Merry, the Olympic bronze medallist at 400m,has withdrawn from the trials with tonsillitis andmiddle distance star Kelly Holmes will also be missing,as a result of a calf injury.
In a bid to boost performances this year, UK Athleticshas introduced a special prize fund this year with 5,000pounds going to the five athletes who produce the bestperformances over the weekend.