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Last Updated: Thursday, 20 November, 2003, 20:58 GMT
Now for serious business
By Alex Trickett
Our man in La Manga gives you the inside track on the men's final

Jamie Baulch (left) and Du'aine Ladejo
Baulch (left) resorted to trash talk
It would be unfair to suggest that humour went missing during the men's final, but attitudes did harden as the elite eight set about their goal.

Graham Bell was a picture of focus, Alain Baxter lamented his exclusion from the 50m swim, and even happy-go-lucky Jamie Baulch put on a serious face for the cameras.

Near calamity

Surprised to be allowed a crack at the short sprint, 400m specialists Baulch and Du'aine Ladejo blasted off the blocks with pride at stake.

But Baulch got a poor start and resorted to trash talk in an attempt to gain ground.

The Welsh whippet's sly tactics almost backfired when, with head still cocked in Ladejo's direction, he overran the finish straight bumping into a camera man and walking away with his equipment.

Football frivolity

Head tennis was the hobby of choice in the heats, but a conventional football kick-about was enough to amuse the finalists during a lull in proceedings.

And Steve Claridge gave a valuable lesson about the gulf between proper players and wannabes.

Not renowned for his defensive flair, the Weymouth player-manager invited all-comers to have a crack at dribbling around him and not one person managed it.

Jacks (left) with Baxter
Can Baxter (right) beat Jacks' records?
Save the children

It had been a running theme all week for the track athletes.

As regular as clockwork, you could rely on Baulch, Darren Campbell or Katherine Merry to holler at one another: "Do it for the kids."

But new meaning was brought to the well-worn catchphrase during the archery event.

Aggrieved at being made to shoot right-handed, left-hander Baulch missed the large target entirely with his first practice effort to howls of laughter from a watching crowd of families and friends.

"For the kids, not at the kids," shouted Campbell right on cue.

Still the master

The gym test has always been a true test of Superstar credentials and it was only fitting that past master Brian Jacks was on hand to take over refereeing duties for the dips after the Jeff Winter-related farce of the heats.

The final's top three - Ladejo, Baxter and Baulch - all excelled, but Jacks stole the show.

The 57-year-old had told me in advance that he was determined to do at least as many dips as his age.

He went one better, firing off 58 repetitions in just 30 seconds to prove - as Brian Hooper had before - that a Superstars legend never loses his touch.



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