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Tuesday, 30 July, 2002, 21:03 GMT 22:03 UK

Jackson haunted by gold standard

By Tom Fordyce
BBC Sport Online in Manchester

There was an eerie sense of déjà vu hanging over Colin Jackson's failure to win his third Commonwealth gold here in Manchester.

It may sound harsh to call it a failure.

Jackson still secured silver, and now has more major medals than any other British athlete in history - one more than Linford Christie and Kathy Cook.

The hurdling hero
Name: Colin Ray Jackson
Born: 18 Feb 1967
Coach: Malcolm Arnold
PB: 12.91secs (world record)
World titles: 1993, 1999
European titles: 1990, 1994, 1998
Commonwealth titles: 1990, 1994
World Indoor titles: 1999
European Indoor titles: 1994 (60m and 60m hurdles), 2001 (6om hurdles)
AAA titles: 10 in total

But the gold was his for the taking.

To run 13.39secs when you have run 12.91secs - albeit nine years ago in far better conditions - is to hand the race to your rivals.

Jackson's easy-going attitude away from competition masks a fierce ambition that has been both a help and hindrance down the years.

The fact that he is still competing at 35, an age when his original contemporaries have swapped spikes for media jobs, is testament to that competitive streak.

Like his old pal Christie before him, Jackson is aesthetically in better physical shape now than he was as an 18-year-old.

The flipside is that nerves generated by his desire to beat the rest have sometimes cost him dear on the big occasions.

It happened at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, when he trailed in fifth, and again in Sydney four years later.

In Manchester he was a clear favourite. Shaun Bownes is a fine high hurdler, but he is not in the Welshman's class.

Jackson is one of the great starters in the sprint hurdles.

On Tuesday night he was almost too quick out of the blocks, exploding away and coming up on the first hurdle almost before he knew it.

Crash! His lead leg clattered into the barrier. Somehow he stayed on his feet, something England's Damien Greaves in the lane inside him failed to do.

You almost expect it from Greaves, a genial chap who runs with a clumsy muscularity compared to Jackson's lithe grace.

But from Colin? It shouldn't happen.

"It has really annoyed me," Jackson said afterwards. "I was in total shock."

After 15 years at the top of his sport, not to mention two world titles, three European golds and a world record, the Welshman desperately wanted another Commonwealth title.

By every other yardstick, Jackson is one of the greatest athletes Britain has produced.

Like Steve Cram, he can consider himself unfortunate in that his best seasons have not coincided with Olympiads.

He was dominant in 1993, taking the world title and world record with a stunning run of 12.91secs in Stuttgart - a record that still stands.

The following year he set the world indoor record with 7.30secs, ran a staggering 11 times under 13.10secs - by far the highest number ever - and won gold medals at both Europeans and Commonwealths.

But the fact that his final Commonwealths ended with silver rather than gold will leave him bitterly upset.

Now he goes to the European Championships in Munich next week with a real score to settle.

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