News04 Mar 2004

Crawford is hot on Gardener's trail


Shawn Crawford wins the USATF indoor men's 60m in Boston (© Kirby Lee)

American champion Shawn Crawford is ready to take his sprinting to a new level this weekend in Budapest when he chases the second World Indoor Championship gold medal of his career.

The 200 metres champion of three years ago runs in Friday's 60m, and he believes the title is up for grabs in the Hungarian capital.

The US star has expressed his great respect for the pre-race favourite, Britain's Jason Gardener, but Crawford is convinced he can shoot down the 'Bath Bullet' in their keenly awaited duel.

"I've had a slow start to the season, running 6.69s and 6.67s or thereabouts,'' said Crawford."But now I'm ready to roll.''

The 26-year-old is now coached by Trevor Graham, the man who played a key role in the rise to stardom of Marion Jones.

"It was the best move I ever made,'' said the athlete who went for many years without a coach. "He's got me ready at exactly the right time for these championships. Don't think just because I won the 200 metres gold medal a few years ago that 60 metres isn't my event."

"I've ran 6.49 before and although I was surprised I won last weekend's US title with 6.47, I knew it was just around the corner.''

That rapid time went down as Crawford's personal best, and he may have to go even quicker on Friday evening to carry off the gold medal.

"I always thought it was coming and now I'm ready as best as I can ever be for this year's race,'' said Crawford.

He accepts that Gardener will be many people's favourite, and with good reason.

"He's the fastest man in the world this year with a quick time of 6.46,'' said an appreciative Crawford, "but I'm not far behind him. We Americans respect the guy and talk about him a lot. But I'm here in top shape and really do believe I will win.''

The pair face morning heats on Friday, with the semi-finals taking place in early evening and the final representing the final event on the day's schedule.

Crawford, who was disqualified when defending his 200 metres title last year in Birmingham, said: "Of course I was disappointed not to win the gold medal again. But you forget these things and get on with your life trying to improve it. I've come here to win the gold medal.''