Athletics: Lewis powers ahead of rivals

Mike Rowbottom

in Budapest

DENISE LEWIS is more than half-way towards winning her second major heptathlon title following an outstanding performance on the first day of her competition here at the European Championships.

The woman who has added Olympic bronze and world silver to her collection since making her breakthrough by winning the 1994 Commonwealth title lies second in the overall standings overnight, with 3,842 from the first four of her seven events, just 28 points behind Natalya Sazanovich of Belarus, who overtook the Briton in winning the last of the 200 metres races in 23.62sec, a race in which Lewis recorded 24.75. Urzsula Wlodarczyk, of Poland is third, with 3,815.

The omens for the 25-year-old Birchfield Harrier look particularly good as the second day - long jump, javelin and 800 metres - is traditionally her strongest, although Sazanovich and Wlodarczyk also have reasonable second-day events to call upon. At this stage in the 1996 Olympics, she was sixth, and at last year's World Championships, fourth.

What made the big difference to Lewis yesterday was her performance in the third event, the shot putt, where she raised her personal best for the third time this season to record a winning effort of 15.27 metres, a massive improvement of 55 centimetres on the mark she set earlier this month at the Welsh Games.

That followed a 100 metres hurdles of 13.59sec, and a high jump in which she reached 1.83 metres, just 1cm beneath her personal best.

Lewis's joy at her achievement in the shot, which came with her first attempt, was palpable, as she turned to the British supporters and shook her fist in the air. It was a significant blow to the morale of Sabine Braun, Germany's defending champion, who, like Lewis, has been struggling to overcome injury this season and was forced to drop out of the Goodwill Games last month without completing seven events.

Lewis, who has been troubled with an ankle injury for three months, was cautious about her prospects coming into these Championships, viewing it as, effectively, the survival of the unfittest. But she rediscovered her competitive edge yesterday.

Grit Breuer, of Germany, won the women's 400 metres title in 49.93 sec. The pace was too much for Britain's pair, Allison Curbishley and Donna Fraser, who were fifth and sixth respectively in 51.05 and 51.54.

Earlier in the day, Colin Jackson and Tony Jarrett progressed as heat winners to today's 110m hurdles semi- finals.

Jarrett, who fell at the last hurdle in his last competition at the Zurich Grand Prix, had to endure a nervous time as he incurred one of three false starts before finishing clear of the field in a time of 13.51sec.

Jackson, whose only problem was the last hurdle, which he hit, won impressively in 13.31sec, easing down, ahead of one of the Germans expected to offer one of his main challenges, Florian Schwarthoff, who recorded 13.64. Falk Balzer, the fastest German in the current rankings, won his heat in 13.47.

It was a promising start for Jackson, who made an unexpected return to form at last year's World Championships, where he took silver behind Allen Johnson of the United States, and he has progressed further this year after having a successful operation on his knee and linking up once more with his old coach, Malcolm Arnold, at Bath University.

His times this year are better than they have been since 1993, when he set the current world record of 12.91sec in winning the world title at Stuttgart, and he leads the European rankings with his time of 13.07sec.

Jackson is taking these championships seriously - he missed the Golden League meetings at Monaco and Zurich in order to concentrate on his preparations. "The European Championships is something that has always been a big thing to win for me," said the man who already won two titles.

"Running more races against the US hurdlers would detract from my concentration for the main event." His hopes are high. "I will be a little disappointed if I don't duck under 13 seconds this weekend," he said. "If I am in good shape I will do all I need to win - and that will probably take me under 13 seconds."

He identified the Germans, and Robin Korving of the Netherlands, as his main threats.

Lorraine Shaw and Lyn Sprules both reached today's hammer final, with qualifying efforts of 61.11 and 60.64 metres respectively, but Katharine Merry, trained by Linford Christie, found the pace too fast to reach the 200 metres final.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Negotiator - OTE £23,000

£13500 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This award winning, Bolton base...

Recruitment Genius: Client Account Executive

£23000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Client Account Executive is r...

Recruitment Genius: Telemarketing Executive

£7 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Full Time position available now at a growing...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + competitive + incentives + uncapped comms: SThree:...

Day In a Page

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future