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ATHLETICS: Medal hope Marlon is quick off the blocks.

COVENTRY sprinter Marlon Devonish began his countdown to the Olympic Games with a silver medal over 100 metres at the Inter-Counties Championships in Bedford.

The world indoor champion at 200 metres last year, Devonish - who celebrated his 28th birthday yesterday - is aiming for the longer sprint in Athens where he hopes to improve on his quarter-final appearance in Sydney four years ago.

His appearance at Bedford was geared towards sharpening his speed before the major international season moves into gear, and he clocked a wind- assisted 10.28 seconds to finish three-hundredths of a second behind defending champion Nick Smith (East Scotland).

Devonish won the silver medal in the 200 metres at the Commonwealth Games two years ago and followed up with a European bronze, but was restricted to a place in the Great Britain 4 x 100 metres relay team at last year's world championships where they finished second.

Coventry Godiva's Andi Drake was the only Warwickshire winner at the two-day inter-counties meeting, setting a championship best of 11 min 48.72 sec in the 3,000 metres walk where he edged out his protege, Coventry University student Dominic King by two and a half seconds.

Rugby's Steve Phillips took bronze in the long jump with a best of 7.39 metres into a slight headwind, finishing 20 cms down on winner Louis Burgess.

There were bronze medals as well for Laura Kenney (4-32.76) in the women's 1500 metres and pole vaulter Hilary Smith (3.60).

Rugby AC hurdler Claire Pearson - competing for Leicestershire - recorded a new wind- assisted personal best of 13.72 secs in her heat of the women's 100 metres hurdles and finished fifth in the final in 13.95.

GODIVA'S Tina Brown represented England in a five-way international match at Szombathely, in Hungary, and finished a close-up fourth in the 1500 metres in 4-19.53.

England finished second in the women's match behind the host nation and ahead of Norway, Wales and Serbia & Montenegro.

Rebecca Roles set a personal best and Rugby AC club record of 54.93 metres as she won the discus for Wales.

A second Rugby club record fell over the weekend, Martin Rutt breaking through the 11-second barrier as he clocked 10.9 seconds to win the 100 metres at an open meeting on the Birmingham University track.

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OFF TO A GOOD START: Coventry sprinter Marlon Devonish
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)
Date:Jun 2, 2004
Words:399
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