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Defeat may rule out world title defence for Baulch

Defeat may rule out world title defence for Baulch
Steven Downes for IAAF

20 February 2001 – Birmingham, England - Jamie Baulch, Britain’s world indoor champion at 400 metres, could be denied the chance to defend his title in Lisbon, Portugal, next month, after a stunning defeat in a "race-off" at the Norwich Union Indoor Grand Prix on Sunday.

Baulch, aged 27, from Newport, South Wales, knew that he would have to beat rival Mark Hylton if he was to be certain of inclusion in the squad when the selectors meet on Monday.

But such is the strength in depth in Britain at the two-lap indoor sprint, Baulch now faces yet another race over 400 metres, in Athens on Wednesday, to try to force himself into the British team for the IAAF World Indoor Championships.

In Athens, Baulch will have to face Du’aine Ladejo, the former European champion at 400m, who on Sunday raced quicker than both Baulch and Hylton in the ‘B’ race.

No one, it seems, can challenge new boy Daniel Caines for his place in the British squad, which he reinforced by again running the fastest time in the world in 2001 on Sunday.

Caines uses the same tactic that has brought Baulch a world indoor silver in 1997 and the world indoor gold in Maebashi, Japan, in 1999 - covering the first lap in a pace so quick as to be almost suicidal.

But on Sunday, as Caines, hared to the bell, Baulch could not match the pace of his British rival. Indeed, no one could.

As 21-year-old Caines clocked the fastest time in the world this year, 45.61sec, Hylton chased him home in 46.42. Baulch, his world title hopes disappearing into the distance, eased up over the final 60 metres and ended up a disconsolate fifth in 46.85sec.

Hylton then demanded that he must be named in the British team, due to be announced in one week’s time.

"I was told that February 19th was the deadline," Hylton, 24, from Windsor, said. "The selectors can’t go back on their word - that wouldn’t be fair."

Although Baulch managed to defeat Hylton in Stockholm last Thursday, the former European under-23 champion pointed out: "It’s 1-1 between us, but I’ve run the faster time.

"I feel sorry for all three of us - we’ve been under tremendous pressure. I’ m just glad I’ve come through it."

If Baulch is excluded from the British team for Lisbon, it will mean that none of Britain’s three gold medallists from Maebashi, Japan, two years ago will defend their titles.

Sprint hurdler Colin Jackson has retired from championship competition, while triple jumper Ashia Hansen is missing the winter’s indoor season.