BBARCELONA, Spain: Newly-crowned European 100m champion Christophe Lemaitre has now turned his focus to the 200m and made light work of first round qualifying here yesterday.The Frenchman came through in the final stages of the glamour 100m event at the European Championships on Wednesday night to leave his rivals trailing.
At just 20 years he showed no nerves competing against more experienced athletes including favourite Dwain Chambers of Great Britain.
“After a brilliant year my objective was gold. I didn’t get a good start but I was able to pick my speed up well,” he said.
Leading the European ranks also at 200m, he has his sights set on gold and on paper the competition appears less severe.
He won his heat with a powerful last 50m while Norway’s Jaysuma Saidy Ndure, his nearest rival in terms of times this year, was fastest in qualifying.
Lemaitre’s team-mate Martial Mbandjock, who took bronze in the 100m, is also through to the next round.
The reigning 110m hurdles champion Stanislavs Olijar of Latvia is out of this year’s event after being disqualified for a false start in the first round.
Olijar, now 31, has not had a good season but was hoping to call on his experience to get in the medals.
In the end though he was left dejected on the sidelines as his rivals for the title qualified for Friday’s semi-finals with little difficulty.
Hungary’s Daniel Kiss set a national record last month and qualified fastest with a time of 13.44secs, in front of Britain’s Andy Turner, who appears to be returning to his best form.
The favourite for the competition, though, is the Czech Republic’s Petr Svoboda who won his heat in a time of 13.50secs.
Frenchman Renaud Lavillenie is the man to beat in the pole vault following an outstanding season to date, which has seen him beat world champion Steve Hooker of Australia on more than one occasion. Lavillenie, with his trademark fast run-up, has a world best this season of 5.94m.
He is through to Saturday’s final, after clearing 5.65m, along with his main rival Raphael Holzdeppe of Germany.
There was a surprise that the other fancied German, Malte Mohr, is out after only being able to clear 5.60m.
Russian triple jumper Nadezhda Alekhina comes to Barcelona with plenty of expectation after producing a 15m jump at her national championships.
She qualified in first place for the final with a jump of 14.59m. Joining her are several candidates including teammate Alsu Murtazina. Greece’s Athanasia Perra is in good form as is Belgium’s Svetlana Bolshakova.
Ukraine’s Oleksiy Kasyanov was forced out of the men’s decathlon yesterday after the overnight leader picked up an injury and was unable to run the 110 metres hurdles.
It was a heartbreaking outcome for the 24-year-old, who had a 20-point lead over Lithuania’s Darius Draudvila after Wednesday’s five events and was in a strong position to succeed injured world record holder Roman Sebrle of the Czech Republic as champion.
A spokesman for European athletics said it was not yet clear what injury Kasyanov, who narrowly missed out on a medal at the 2009 world championships in Berlin, had sustained.
With the discus, pole vault, javelin and 1,500 metres still to come, Draudvila had a 69-point advantage over Andrei Krauchanka of Belarus, with Frenchman Romain Barras 136 points off the lead in third. — Agencies