athlete Katharine Merry has received a surprise boost to her Olympic
medal bid by the withdrawal of one of her main rivals.
Reigning champion Marie-Jose
Perec has left Sydney to return to Paris after claiming she was
confronted in her hotel.
The 400m runner, the main
rival to Australian favourite Cathy Freeman, has been under intense
media scrutiny, and had isolated herself from the Olympic village.
On the trip back home she
became involved in an altercation with an Australian cameraman in
Singapore, and her boyfriend was detained by police.
Perec’s withdrawal removes
one medal obstacle facing Merry, who only took up the distance last
Freeman is capable of running
much faster, and will have the home crowd behind her.
But Merry, aged 26, who grew
up in Dunchurch, is hoping that she can follow along and try and get
under 50 seconds for the first time.
“Meeting Cathy Freeman in
the final would be a tremendous experience. All the pressure in the
race would be upon her I would like to think that I can come through
and give her a good race.”
Merry starts her campaign
tomorrow morning, while 800m Coventry Godiva Harriers runner Andy Hart
will also be competing in his first round.