22 AUG 1998 General News

Arron saves the day

for France in women's 100m relay
Steven Downes reports for IAAF from Budapest

BUDAPEST, August 22 - CHRISTINE ARRON, having already produced one of the performances of the European Championships here earlier in the week in winning the individual 100 metres in 10.73sec, last night topped even that run when she took over on the anchor leg of France's 4x100 metres relay out of the medal positions and six metres adrift of Russia's Irina Privalova, the 200 metres champion, and yet still brought home the gold medal.

The French squad of Katia Benth, Frederique Bangue, Sylviane Felix and Arron recorded 42.59 to Germany's 42.68, with Russia taking bronze in 42.73. "All I was thinking of was the gold medal," Arron said. "Right now I feel I am in the shape of my life."

Privalova, however, did not feel in such good form. "I am dead tired. I am not fit enough to run so many races in five days. I am sorry I let my team mates down."

Colin Jackson and Heike Drechsler both produced fine performances to take repeat titles - the Welsh sprint hurdler his third, to equal the championship record of his former business partner, Linford Christie, while the German took her fourth European long jump title, the first having been won in 1986 when aged 21.

Jackson ran 13.02sec in both his semi-final and the final, the third fastest time in the world this year, and the 1993 IAAF world champion's fastest run for four years. "It as important for me to re-establish myself this year, to show I am alive and well and ready to compete with the Americans in Seville next year," Jackson said.

The silver medal went to Germany's Falk Balzer, who ran a personal record 13.12sec, while Robin Korving equalled the Dutch national record with 13.20 for bronze.

As expected, it was Fiona May of Italy and Lyudmila Galkina of Russia who provided Drechsler's main opposition, as all three jumped beyond seven metres, Drechsler clearing 7.16 metres in the second and third rounds, but registering no other valid jumps, while May's 7.11 Italian record was good enough for silver ahead of Galkina's 7.06.

Could Drechsler win a fifth gold in Munich in four years' time? "Why not?" she said. "I still feel like I'm just 28 years old. Age is not important to me."

It was another excellent day for the Briish team, for as well as Jackson, Denise Lewis won the heptathlon gold (6559 points: 13.59; 1.83; 15.27; 24.75; 6.59; 50.16; 2:20.38), and the men's 4x100 metres squad was also successful, putting them on top of the medals table going into the final day with six golds.

Runner-up to Lewis was Ula Wlodarczyk of Poland (6,460), whose 45.29-metre javelin throw and 2:11.75 800 metres saw her snatch the silver from Belarus's overnight leader, Natalya Sazanovich (6,410).

The anticipated Greek challenge never materialised in the men's sprint relay, as the British squad of Allyn Condon, Darren Campbell, Doug Walker and Julian Golding were comfortable winners in 38.52sec ahead of a jubilant French quartet (38.87) and Poland (38.98).

A slow-run 5,000 metres final - unusually for a European Championships, there had not been enough entries to stage any preliminary heats - suited Isaac Viciosa of Spain perfectly, as he covered the final lap inside 54.2sec to win in 13min 37.46sec.

In the pole vault, Maksim Tarasov beat Tim Lobinger of Germany on countback as both cleared 5.81 metres, while Mihaela Melinte of Romania became Europe's first woman hammer champion, throwing 70.63 metres in the fifth round, then 71.17 metres in the final round to overtake Russia's early leader, Olga Kuzenkova (69.28).