crawford hoping to defy odds

BERLIN - Shawn Crawford is one of the more colourful characters on the athletics circuit, but the man who glories in the nickname "Cheetah Man" is hoping that he can upset the odds in Germany and take the 200m title.

BERLIN - Shawn Crawford is one of the more colourful characters on the athletics circuit, but the man who glories in the nickname "Cheetah Man" is hoping that he can upset the odds in Germany and take the 200m title.

If that sounds an unlikely scenario given the current form of Usain Bolt and Tyson Gay, his track record proves he is always up for a challenge.

The 31-year-old 2004 Olympic 200m champion, a former training partner of disgraced sprinter Justin Gatlin, raced a giraffe and a zebra in 2003.

The giraffe came off second-best but the zebra overcame a slow start to beat the extrovert American. But he believes he could have had the zebra's stripes.

"Tell the zebra I coulda whooped him," he told the magazine ESPN.

Crawford, who also wants to run in war paint, having already worn a Phantom of the Opera mask at a meeting in Milan, has shown that he is not all bluster and self-promotion.

Having failed to defend his title successfully at last year's Olympics, finishing a distant fourth behind Bolt, he found himself promoted ultimately to second as compatriot Wallace Spearmon and Netherlands Antilles's Churandy Martina were disqualified.

Crawford, though, was plainly embarrassed and, in a sport not known for its humility, he handed the silver medal to Martina - who would have been the first Olympic medallist from the island.

For Crawford, it was important that he gave Martina the medal.

"It was a burden off my shoulders," he said.

Crawford showed he was in top form at the trials, winning the 200m in style even if he was deprived of facing Gay, who automatically qualified for the world championships as defending champion. Crawford said the race was one of the finest of his career as he turned in a wind-assisted 19,73 seconds. - Sapa-AFP

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