AN MP is lining up against an Olympic medallist to highlight the continuing crisis of Third World debt.

Julia Drown, MP for South Swindon, is taking part in the Race Against Debt with runner Steve Cram on College Green next to the Houses of Parliament today.

Ms Drown, who organised the event with the Jubilee Debt Campaign and the World Development Movement, is chairwoman of the Commons All Party Group on Heavily Indebted Poor Countries.

A team of MPs, each representing a desperately poor country affected by debt, will race towards the UN Millennium Develop- ment Goal of halving the number of people living in extreme poverty worldwide by 2015.

Mr Cram will start the race and the MPs will be burdened by the weight of large sacks symbolising the weight of debt that third world countries have to pay off.

Ms Drown has criticised the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund for placing "economic hurdles'' to block the path of heavily in debt nations.

She said: "Steve Cram has raced against athletes from some of the poorest countries in the world and knows he had opportunities they will never see.

"I feel very strongly that everyone in the world should have a fair chance. It would be great if the children of Third World countries had all of the opportunities of children here in Swindon."