MonteCarloA week ago, her smile shone out bright when she arrived back at the meeting hotel in Berlin after the final TDK Golden League of the season. Christine Arron was carrying two bunches of flowers, but no winner’s cheque.
Tonight, the golden girl of French athletics had no flowers, no winner’s cheque, but still a smile.
Athletics is often all about who finishes first, but here, as Arron was beaten by the narrowest of margins by Veronica Campbell, of Jamaica, in a superb 100m at the IAAF World Athletics Final, you had to wonder whether today would bring a fitting end to her 100m season (she runs the 200m tomorrow).
Take nothing away from Campbell, who herself this year has shown incredible versatility. She started the summer with a five-year unbeaten record in the 200m which she lost in London in July, but is now $30,000 richer because of her speed over the 100m.
Who would have predicted that three months ago? Equally, who could have speculated that on the day that Arron runs her fastest time of the season, she would not win.
But it happened in a glorious finale to the first evening of the summer’s last major track and field competition as Campbell triumphed in 10.92 from Arron, second in 10.93, with Lauryn Williams, of the USA, third in 11.04.
It looked as though Arron would win, but in the end she did not have enough. She collects $20,000 for second and will aim to turn the tide on Campbell in what should be a mouth-watering 200m this afternoon.
Arron ended one victory away from a share of the Golden League jackpot that was claimed by Russian Tatyana Lebedeva’s unbeaten six-meeting streak in the Triple Jump.
Arron, the 1998 European 100m champion, lost in Zurich, five days after Helsinki, where she had won bronze in both individual sprints. Prior to the World Championships in Helsinki, where Arron won individual bronze in both sprints, only Lebedeva and her were left in with a shout of the million dollar jackpot.
Since Zurich, at the two remaining TDK Golden League meetings, Arron has triumphed. As she did so in Berlin last Sunday, the organisers were writing Lebedeva’s name onto the million dollar cheque.
It is a measure of the athlete that Arron is, that she could smile the way she did in Berlin - and she did tonight too, congratulating Campbell.
But the one athlete who received the biggest cheer of the night, being so close to home, was beaten again.
How she will now react will be fascinating. Will Arron try to attack from the gun in tomorrow’s 200m? She is in lane five, on her left is Allyson Felix, the World champion from America, while Campbell is on her right.
Arron is experienced enough to deal with pressure. But this time, she might just wonder whether in under-23 seconds the outcome will be in her favour.
Samuel Peters for the IAAF