Linford Christie was soundly beaten in his first outdoor race of the season last night at the IAAF meeting in St Denis, north of Paris.
Britain's Olympic and world 100 metres champion finished fifth in a 200 metres race won by the outdoor world champion, Frankie Fredericks, clocking 20.80sec to the Namibian's 20.41.
"Well, I lost, that's life," said Christie, who beat Fredericks by one hundredth of a second in Lievin four months ago in setting a world indoor 200m record of 20.25sec. "It's the first time I've run this season, there's no need to be disapppointed.
"They've run two races already. But that's not an excuse - they ran better than I did. I just need to race - and I'm going to run a lot of 200 metres this season; five or six before the World Championships in August."
Christie got the best start and led through the bend but faded on the straight as Fredericks passed him. Patrick Stevens, of Belgium, finished second with 20.57sec with Vyache Dologodin, of Ukraine, third in 20.70sec. Jeff Williams, of the United States, was fourth with 20.70sec.
Christie and Fredericks, who trained together in Australia over the winter, embraced at the finish. "I feel good," Fredericks said. "It was my first race on the European circuit. I have already run faster than last year and I am in good shape." He plans to defend his title at the World Championships in Gothenburg, Sweden, in August.
Christie added that he had just recovered from a bruised toe on his right foot that disrupted his training. "Last year at the start of the season in Rome I finished last in a race," he said. "It doesn't worry me. If it was the end of the season I'd be worried."
Catherina McKiernan, Ireland's three-times silver medallist at the World Cross-country Championships, was beaten over 5,000 metres by Portugal's Fernando Ribeiro, who recorded 14min 55.02sec, 4.02sec faster than McKiernan.
In the women's 400m hurdles, Deon Hemmings, of Jamaica, second fastest in the world this year, won in 55.14sec. Britain's Gowry Retchkan was last in a time of 57.78.
That kind of time will be interesting but hardly worrying for Sally Gunnell, who plans to run her first 400m hurdles in Rome next Thursday. Gunnell will warm up for that race over 400m flat in Turin tonight, where she is hoping for a time of around 52sec.