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MY GIRL WAS NOT IN LOVE TANGLE; Denise's mum denies links with jailed athlete.

Byline: PAUL MALLEY

FAMILY and friends of Midland golden girl Denise Lewis last night denied claims linking her with a sensational athletics love triangle.

Olympic heptathlon champion Denise was alleged to have had a relationship with Chris Cotter, the athlete jailed last week for a bogus race attack.

Reports claimed that Cotter was Denise's boyfriend, but that he dumped her and started a relationship with athlete Ashia Hansen in 1994. It was a move said to have sparked tension between the two women.

On Friday Cotter, 29, was jailed for two years after faking a racist attack on himself in a bid to win back Ashia, with whom he had a stormy relationship.

He then sent her and others, including Denise, hate mail to cover his tracks.

During the trial, the court heard how Cotter and Olympic triple jumper Ashia, 29, had fallen out with another 'very well known female athlete' who once had a relationship with Cotter.

Reports yesterday named the woman as 28-year-old Wolverhampton queen of track and field Denise.

Speaking from her semi-detached home in Wolverhampton, Denise's mother Joan said her daughter and Cotter were good friends but denied they'd had a relationship.

'Denise and Chris knew each other very well,' she said. 'They were good friends who used to train together a few years ago, but she never had a relationship with him.'

An insider at Denise's Birchfield Harriers club last night also rubbished reports of a relationship.

The source, who has known her since she joined the Birmingham club as a teenager, said: 'People involved in athletics tend to know who is going out with whom.'

Reports yesterday said Cotter dumped Denise in favour of Ashia, prompting the Wolverhampton star to rally other athletes to show their disdain for Miss Hansen and her new partner.

It was against this volatile background that Cotter lost Ashia, and tried to win her back by staging a bogus racial attack upon himself in March last year.

Financial adviser Cotter, a former long jumper, was jailed on Friday by Judge Robert Orme at Birmingham Crown Court after a jury found him guilty of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.

Cotter, formerly of Trigo Close, Bromford, Birmingham, claimed he had been slashed with a knife by a gang near to Ashia's Erdington home.

The reason for the attack, he said, was the gang objected to a white man dating a black woman.

In reality, the deep wounds were self-inflicted and one of his friends tried to sell the story.

Surjit Clair, 32, of Dalton Road, Reedswood, Walsall and Craig Wynn, 29, of Kings Road, Kingstanding, were also convicted of conspiring to pervert the course of justice. All three men had denied the charge.

Cotter and Wynn were cleared of attempting to obtain property by deception by selling the story but Clair was found guilty of the charge. Clair was jailed for three years and Wynn two years.

Speaking after the verdicts, Ashia, who has split from Cotter, said she was relieved she could put the nightmare behind her.

CAPTION(S):

NIGHTMARE... triple jumper Ashia Hansen is glad the case is over JUST GOOD FRIENDS... Chris Cotter was jailed last week after staging a bogus race attack GOLDEN GIRL... Denise Lewis
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Publication:Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England)
Date:Jun 10, 2001
Words:541
Previous Article:POLICE NAME COMA TEEN.
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