Christophe Lemaitre defends his European 100m title (Getty Images) © Copyright
Lemaitre: 'There was a lot of pressure and I only wanted gold'
Christophe Lemaitre collected his second 100m gold medal in succession in the European championships in 10.09 to cement his already secure place in the pantheon of French sport.
Second place was also taken by France in the person of Jimmy Vicaut, 0.03 back, while Norway’s Jaysuma Saidy Ndure won bronze in 10.17.
That French double matches the 1962 gold and silver won by Claude Piquemal and Jocelyn Delacour. It also puts distance between the French and Great Britain who were tied on 11 medals each in this event before this evening.
The race was characterised by two false starts when Lithuania’s Rytis Sakalauskas stayed in his blocks at the first time of asking and Italy’s Simone Collio tried to beat the gun.
That ensured Lemaitre’s nervousness and poor start leaving him with a lot to do from 50m on when he was only fourth. "It was difficult to concentrate after the false starts," said Lemaitre.
"I really wasn’t sure I had won. I could see Jimmy (Vicaut) was there and I was afraid I had lost. It was totally different to Barcelona two years ago. There I would have been happy with silver, but here I wanted to win. There was a lot of pressure and I only wanted gold."
Vesely's rise continues
The Javelin Throw was won by world leader Vitezslav Vesely of the Czech Republic, protégé of Jan Zelezny who never managed to lift European gold in his illustrious career. Vesely won by half a metre with 83.72m from Russia’s Valeriy Iordan (83.23m) and to the local crowd’s delight, Ari Mannio (82.63m) collected bronze.
Two arch rivals, Norway’s Andreas Thorkildsen and Finland’s Tero Pitkamaki, never got going and the Norwegian withdrew in fourth place after three rounds and a best of 81.55m citing problems with his right quadriceps. The Norwegian will be gunning for his third Olympic title in a row in London: "I don’t think it will be a problem for the Olympics," said Thorkildsen.
"It is not so serious. I just could not throw to my maximum today. It was a question of giving up after warming up or giving it a genuine go so I gave it a go."
Behrenbruch approaching 8600pts
As expected the decathlon went to Germany’s Pascal Behrenbruch (8,558 PB) who finished strongly with a 5.00m Pole Vault PB and a 67.45m Javelin which gave him a decisive edge over the Ukraine’s Oleksiy Kasyanov (8321) who had led for most of the competition. Russia’s Ilya Shkurenyov took bronze with 8219PB.
Not since 1971 has a German won the European championships Decathlon when the GDR’s Joachim Kirst took the last of his two titles. "After this performance, my goal is a medal in the Olympics," said the Frankfurter.
Lalova and Golovkina strike gold on the track
There was a narrow 100m win for Bulgaria’s Ivet Lalova in 11.28 over Ukranian Oleysha Povh’s 11.32 while Lithuanian Lina Grincikaite took a surprise bronze, also in 11.32, to match Povh’s time. Germany’s defending champion Verena Sailor finished a disappointing sixth in 11.42.
The Bulgarian, like Lemaitre later, left herself a lot to do when Povh got a brilliant start and was in the lead for most of the race. But Lalova’s determination since she recorded a European leading 11.06 in round one knew no bounds and metre by metre she hauled in the pre-event favourite.
Olga Golovkina of Russia collected her country’s first 5000m gold medal in the history of these championships when she moved from third to first in the home straight, crossing the line in 15:11.70 with a last lap of 63.5.
Second was the even faster finishing Lyudmila Kovaleko of Ukraine (62.43), taking her country’s first ever medal of any kind at this event in the European championships. Portugal’s Sara Moreira repeated her bronze from Barcelona, missing out on silver by 0.02 after being in the gold medal position until the last few metres.
Beitia and Lesueur triump in the jumps
Spain’s Ruth Beitia won her country’s first European championship medal at the High Jump, winning gold on count-back at 1.97m against Norway’s Tonje Angelsen (1.97 PB), also a first for this Nordic country. Russia’s Irina Gordeyeva took bronze with 1.92m.
With her coach back in Spain, Beitia took the Spanish flag off delegation leader and 1992 1500m gold medallist, Fermin Cacho, for her lap of honour. "The pressure got to me a bit," admitted Beitia. "It is my first outdoor medal since the European U-23 championships in 2001."
The Long Jump was won by France’s Eloyse Lesueur with her first round jump of 6.81m, a season’s best. Belarus took silver through Volha Sudarava while Norway’s Margrethe Renström took bronze.
"It’s my first podium and with gold too," enthused the winner. "My number one aim was to get in a legal jump in the first round." Job done.
Michael Butcher for the IAAF
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1999 Galfione on track