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Last Updated:  Thursday, 13 March, 2003, 16:28 GMT
Athlete with sticking power
Colin Jackson
One final race awaits Jackson
When a 19-year-old hurdler from south Wales won the World Junior championships in 1986, how many people watching realised they were seeing the start of a remarkable career?

Colin Jackson himself probably had little idea that, when he had nearly doubled in age, he would still be one of the most noted athletes in his field.

As he faces his final challenge as a professional racer this Sunday at the World Indoor Championships, whatever the outcome he will bow out of hurdling a true champion.

Jackson still holds the world record for 110m hurdles, which stands a decade after he broke the 13 second barrier and set a new time of 12.91secs.

As well as a host of sporting achievements, he has twice been honoured by the Queen, gaining an MBE in 1990 and an OBE in 2000.

Jackson was three times named the BBC Wales Sports Personality of the year for his outstanding efforts on the track.

The hurdling hero
Name: Colin Ray Jackson
Born: 18 Feb 1967
Coach: Malcolm Arnold
PB: 12.91secs (world record)
World titles: 1993 (wr)
European titles: 1990, 1994, 1998, 2002
Commonwealth titles: 1990, 1994
World Indoor titles: 1999
European Indoor titles: 1994 (60m and 60m hurdles), 2001 (60m hurdles)
AAA titles: 10 in total
Closer to home, a street in the village of Rhoose, near Cardiff, where his parents live, has been renamed Jackson Close in his honour.

So what made Jackson such a big star in his field? Fellow hurdler, American Tony Rees, who was in the race with Jackson when he broke the world record, gave his opinion to BBC Radio Wales.

"He always came ready to run. He didn't make a lot of mistakes - if he's there, he's ready to run.

"You couldn't rattle him. That's what got to a lot of athletes.

"At times, I was nauseous prior to the race when I had to race Colin because he was my main rival at the time and I wanted so bad to really beat him," he admitted.

Former Olympic long jump champion Lynn Davies said Jackson was possibly the greatest hurdler of all time in terms of global achievement.

He added Jackson's record was more impressive than more visible sporting stars such as David Beckham.

"He's certainly a higher achiever on the world stage than Beckham ever will be, but athletics doesn't enjoy the profile of football," Mr Davies said.

It's bigger news when Colin loses than when he wins
Lynn Davies
"Brilliant hurdler, fantastic qualities, hugely talented - he could have taken up rugby or soccer when he was a youngster.

"Huge desire at the age of 36 because he still wants to be world champion.

"Possibly his greatest quality is perseverance.

"When you think at 21 he got a silver medal at the Seoul Olympics, he's been in four Olympic finals and it's testimony to his ability to persevere, to train very hard, commit himself, and still want to be the best - these are his best qualities.

"There are many great athletes with talent but they haven't stayed with it.

Mr Davies pointed out that Jackson had faced his own hurdles in his career, including injuries and illness, but had not let them bring his career to an end.

Jackson's departure would leave a "huge gap" in Welsh athletics, according to Mr Davies.

Colin Jackson
Jackson in action at the Commonwealth Games
"The British public love him and he's going to be real sad loss to the sport," he said.

"It's bigger news when Colin loses than when he wins."

He suggested Jackson was an great example for the upcoming generation.

"Colin Jackson, both on and off the field, has been a brilliant role so when people watch Colin they can't help but be impressed.

"For young people who want to take up athletics, there couldn't be a better model to follow than Colin Jackson."

The Final Hurdle, a documentary looking back at Colin Jackson's career, airs on BBC Radio Wales on Saturday, 15 March at 1305 GMT.

Colin Jackson - Up Close is screened on Monday, 17 March on BBC One Wales at 2235 GMT.

Jackson's final hurdle
11 Mar 03 |  Athletics
Jackson seals historic victory
02 Feb 03 |  Athletics
Colin Jackson
31 Dec 02 |  Wales
Jackson aiming to bow out in style
18 Sep 02 |  Athletics
Jackson leads GB team
03 Mar 03 |  Athletics

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