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Last Updated: Friday, 29 August, 2003, 07:50 GMT 08:50 UK
Thursday's Paris diary
Tom Fordyce
By Tom Fordyce
BBC Sport at the Stade de France

Piscine pleasure

The late start to Thursday's track and field action at the Stade de France gave those of us working out here the chance to take a little breather.

While some slept off hangovers, your perky diarist decided to take a dip at the local open-air swimming pool.

The sights that greeted me there only served to confirm how far France is ahead of Britain in several key areas.

Public pool in west London: cold cloudy water, plasters floating past your face, half-dead OAPs flapping around feebly in the shallow end.

Public pool in Paris: 50m-long pristine piscine, water so clear you could drink it, mixed-sex communal showers where young Parisian ladies happily walk around as nature intended.

Memo to self: remember to ask boss when next in office if BBC Sport budget permits permanent Paris correspondent.

The name game

Nigerian runner Boniface Kiprop
Kiprop might feel at home in Manchester

Thursday's heats of the men's 5,000m feature two of the more impressive names in distance running.

I'm not referring here to Hicham El Guerrouj and Kenenisa Bekele, the two superstars whose battle should be one of the highlights of the championships, but to Kenya's John Kibowen and Uganda's Boniface Kiprop.

"Kibowen" is a name that means "born when an alarm has called warriors to arms" - somewhat putting the likes of Britain's Andy Graffin in the shade.

"Kiprop", by contrast, translates as "born when it's raining" - the sort of name that makes a man stand out in east Africa but in Manchester would cause havoc during school registration periods.  

The greatest race

There have been some fantastic races at these Worlds - the 3,000m steeplechase, men's 400m and men's 100m among them.

But all were trumped by a late-night spectacular in a Paris restaurant in the early hours of Thursday morning.

It was there that a British television presenter and British newspaper journalist went head-to-head in the ultimate endurance event of all - a race to finish an entire plate of boiled mussels.

Not since Paul Newman's hard-boiled egg antics in Cool Hand Luke has there been an eat-off like it.

First one man led, then the other, the lead changing hands as quickly as the empty shells piled up beside the two noble protagonists.

The pace was terrifying, the table manners even worse - and the crowd loved every greasy-fingered second of it.

For the record, telly triumphed over press. But there was only one real winner in this cataclysmic contest - sport itself.

Super fast, super bad

Michael Johnson
Is Johnson's place in history under threat?

American 110m hurdler Terrence Trammell is not one to aim low.

Not content with having a pop at a single world title, he has proclaimed that his career ambition is to be the fastest man in history at distances from 40m to 400m.

The BBC's Michael Johnson might have something to say about that for starters.

More to the point, Terry T needs to do some talking on the track. Ten days ago in Helsinki, he could manage only eighth place and a time of 15.75secs in his number one event.

That's the sort of time that suggests he stopped to say hello to every hurdle on the way - which is no sort of way for a potential sprint superstar to behave.

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