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The BBC's Steve Cram
"Another huge step towards a possible medal in Sydney"
 real 28k

Saturday, 8 July, 2000, 22:26 GMT
Merry beats Olympic champion
Katharine Merry
Katharine Merry: Four wins out of four
British number one Katharine Merry maintained her undefeated start to the season with victory in Olympic champion Marie-Jose Perec's comeback 400m at the Grand Prix in Nice.

Perec finished third in her first 400m outing for four years and although she couldn't match the on-form Merry, her time of 50.32 was well within the Olympic qualifying mark.

Merry won in 50.05 from Jamaica's world bronze medallist Lorraine Graham to make it four wins from four races this season.

The Briton, coached by Linford Christie, finished just 0.05 sec ahead of Lorraine after the pair had shaken off Perec over the final 100m.

"Coming back after four years is not easy," reflected Perec afterwards. "I didn't sleep at all last night, I kept running the race over-and-over in my mind and I never won.

"Qualifying for the Olympics was a great bonus but my objective was to feel the race - to get used to competing again."


Perec and Merry will meet again in the European Cup at Gateshead next weekend.

Meanwhile, Sergei Bubka and Donovan Bailey's preparations for the Sydney Olympics received setbacks in Nice.

Bubka - six times world pole vault champion - was forced to pull out of the meeting with a strained thigh muscle.

The 36-year-old Ukrainian does not expect to return to action until next month and will not compete in Sydney unless he is 100 per cent fit.

Bailey, the Olympic champion, could finish only third in the 100m, behind Nigeria's Francis Obikwelu and Darren Campbell.

"I'm tired and I'm going home," he said. "I have to correct my mistakes and I made quite a few of them today. I was passed while I was leading and that never happens.

"It won't happen again."

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See also:

02 Jul 00 |  Athletics
Cram: Merry set fair
07 Jul 00 |  Athletics
Perec hits comeback trail
05 Jul 00 |  Athletics
Rawlinson has Herbert in his sights
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