TRIUMPHANT RETURN FOR CHAMBERS
By David Martin, PA Sport
Dwain Chambers made a triumphant return to world-class athletics by finishing third in the Norwich Union British Grand Prix at Gateshead.
Chambers, returning after a drug ban, was not a match for Asafa Powell who tied the world record of 9.77 seconds he shares with Justin Gatlin, the Olympic and world champion.
The 23-year-old Jamaican was in his own race against the clock as his rivals fought for minor honours.
They included Chambers, who in his first race for nearly three years, was battling against not only against the remainder of the filed, but also what kind of reception he would get from the crowd.
The nerves were present in the final as he initially made a false start before he ran an almost perfect race at his second attempt.
Chambers was edged out of the runner-up spot by just one hundredth of a second by last summer’s World Championship silver medallist Michael Frater, but still clocked a commendable time of 10.07secs.
“I didn’t expect that at all - not at all,” said Chambers, who defeated his major British rivals - Marlon Devonish and Mark Lewis-Francis - who were fourth and fifth, and teenager Harry Aikines-Aryeetey who finished eighth.
Chambers added: “I was pleased with the reception I got from the crowd.”
The 8,500 spectators clapped him before the final got under way.
“The past has now gone and I can now look to the future,” added Chambers.
The British record-holder said: "Despite all the ups and downs, I showed I can still compete.
“I didn’t think I’d have another day like this. It’s good to do it in front of a British crowd,” admitted Chambers, who for the last seven months has prepared for his comeback in Jamaica.
Chambers’ performance was good enough to impress UK Athletics performance director Dave Collins, who said: “The European Cup place is there for Chambers if he wants it.”
Powell was insistent there was even more to come and played down the non-appearance of his US rival and fellow record holder Justin Gatlin in what would would have been there first head-to-head of the season at the UK venue.
“That’s his problem not mine - if I get the right conditions, I can go 9.7,” said Powell, who actually ran 9.7629secs - the quickest 100m ever achieved - but the time was rounded up for record purposes.
Powell, who has even suggested a 9.6secs time is a possibility, added: “I’m not disappointed at not breaking the world record - it’s still early season.”
The Caribbean ace, who bettered Chambers’ seven-year stadium record of 10.05secs, said: "I made it look easy but that’s how I run.
“I know my coach and I know that he’s not going to be happy, because at the end I didn’t do what he told me,” he said, after slowing slightly five metres from the line.
Becky Lyne fulfilled her dream of breaking two minutes for 800m although she was beaten, for the second time in nine days, by Janeth Jepkosgei.
The Kenyan’s victory was much more empathic than in Oslo, when lowering her national record and world leading time for the year to 1:57.
Lyne fought bravely to combat the front running style of her African opponent but just did not have the finishing pace to catch her in the final sprint up the home straight.
Nevertheless it was an outstanding performance from the former European Under-23 champion whose time of 1:58.20 made her the UK’s third fastest ever two-lap runner behind Kelly Holmes and Kirsty Wade.
Natasha Danvers-Smith, like Chambers and Lyne, will almost certainly have guaranteed her place in the Norwich Union GB European Cup side for Malaga in Spain at the end of the month, after setting a season’s best to win the 400m hurdles.
Danvers-Smith, already in consistent form and winner of the Prague international meeting, had a time of 54.85secs.
That easily held off the challenges of Kaliese Spencer of Jamaica and Claudia Marx, from Germany, who clocked times of 55.61secs and 56.06secs respectively.