Shrunken team on expanded stage

August 25, 1995

The triple jump, suddenly fashionable in the wake of Jonathan Edwards' spectacular victory at the World Athletics Championships in Gothenberg, could provide further British triumphs at the World Student Games.

Opening this week in Fukuoka, Japan, the games bring together 6,000 competitors from 130 countries, taking part in 12 sports. The last Universiade - held in Buffalo, United States in 1993 - attracted 5,100 competitors from 117 countries.

The British men's triple jump challenge is led by reigning champion Tosi Fasinro of Staffordshire University and Julian Golley of West London Institute of Higher Education, gold medallist at the 1994 Commonwealth Games in Victoria, Canada.

A British team of 130 compares with 175 at Buffalo and 300 when the games were held in Sheffield in 1991. Gerald Gregg-Jones, British team manager, said: "This is a reflection of finance rather than quality." The Sports Council grant of Pounds 90,000 is the same as for Buffalo and Sheffield. The Germans also have 135 competitors, Australia 138, the Netherlands 95 and the US 450. Britain will want to take a larger team to the 1997 Universiade in Sicily where rugby, hockey and rowing - all relatively strong British sports - are scheduled to be guest events.

The British team was greeted on arrival by five television camera crews and banks of photographers - prompting team officials to compare this level of interest with the low media profile of student events in the United Kingdom.

Nobody is predicting the overall team performance, but anything close to the 13 medals won at Buffalo would be considered an outstanding result.

High-profile competitors at the games include Trinidadian sprinter Ato Boldon, bronze medallist at Gothenberg and Belarusian gymnast Vitali Scherbo, who won six golds at the 1992 Olympics. Scherbo is the main threat to the hopes of Neil Thomas of Liverpool John Moores University, silver medallist at the last two world championships, who was British flag-bearer at the opening ceremony.

Other medal hopefuls include 400-metre runner David Grindlay of Manchester Metropolitan University, an Olympic finalist just returning from injury, and high-jumper Brendan Reilly of Loughborough University. Curtis Robb of Manchester Met, a medal hope in the 800m, had to drop out with injury. The most likely female medallists are swimmer Lucy Findlay and tennis player Samantha Smith of Exeter University.

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