Athletics: Rapid learner Chambers in sub-10 squad

In the post-Christie era, British athletics has finally found a sprinter to take on the very best

THERE WAS further bad news yesterday for any domestic rivals of Dwain Chambers, who on Sunday night became only the second European after Linford Christie to run a sub-10 second 100 metres. The 21-year- old Belgrave Harrier is not yet race sharp. That is, according to the man who has coached him for the past two years, the former Commonwealth 200m champion and Olympic 100m finalist, Mike McFarlane.

The season had already begun well for the Londoner, whose victory at Loughborough three weeks ago in a time of 10.17sec convinced the British selectors to give him the individual 100m place at this weekend's European Cup, ahead of the 24-year-old who beat him to the European title last summer, Darren Campbell.

That decision was queried by Christie, Campbell's coach and mentor, but Chambers' performance at the Nuremberg meeting, where he finished ahead of Campbell, effectively settled the argument.

The reaction of McFarlane when he phoned Chambers five minutes after the race - "You've run what? No way!" - made it clear that this was a performance that had come well ahead of schedule in what was only Chambers' second 100m of the season. "I was stunned," McFarlane said.

"Dwain is now in the arena with what we call the main gorillas - in other words the likes of Maurice Greene, Ato Boldon, Obadele Thompson and Frankie Fredericks. He's approaching that territory and what he has to do next is to establish consistency. We have discussed this time and time again in the last few months."

Chambers acknowledges the need for a steady progression in a season which he hopes will climax at the World Championships in August. But for now he is literally putting his feet up for a couple of days and reflecting upon his latest dramatic jump forward in a sprinting career that first seized public attention two years ago when he won the European junior title in a world junior record of 10.06sec.

Last season finished with another flourish as he recorded 10.03sec at altitude when competing in the World Cup in Johannesburg. For Chambers, it was a good end to what had turned out to be a bitterly disappointing year.

His reaction after taking silver behind Campbell in the European final at Budapest made it very clear that this was a young man who was not prepared to settle for second best. Unable to contain his frustration, he stormed out of the changing area after the final without answering any questions.

"The European title was what I longed for," Chambers said yesterday. "I'd worked and trained for it all year long and I thought I could achieve it, but on the day I didn't run to my best. I spent too much time worrying about what Darren was going to do, and that was my downfall. But I have matured a lot in the last six or seven months. I am a lot stronger now, and a lot more determined. In running 9.99 I have already achieved one of my goals for the season, but I shall stick to my plans and hopefully be running even faster by the time of the World Championships."

Chambers' new single-mindedness paid off in Nuremberg, where once again he lined up alongside his main domestic rival, pitting his own explosive style - he is 13stone just under 6ft - against the grace and fluency of Christie's protege. "I was thinking to myself: 'Don't worry about Darren.' I just concentrated on my own race. I was really surprised at how easy the run felt. It felt much faster in the European Championships, although I only ran 10.10 there."

Ironically, Chambers was assisted in his preparations by Campbell's coach. Christie, whose management group, Nuff Respect, looks after Chambers' race schedule and commercial deals, was in Nuremberg to watch Campbell and other members of his training group compete. And with McFarlane back in England, Christie assisted Chambers in his warm-up. "Linford was really helpful as a back-up," Chambers said. "He told me to get out, relax, drive and rely on my pick-up."

Being in the same management group as Campbell could, one imagines, be awkward at times, but Chambers is perfectly happy that the arrangement thus far is mutually beneficial. "There is a great camaraderie between Darren and myself and all the other members of the relay squad. We can't afford to worry too much about which of us is going to beat the other because we have got bigger fish to fry. We have to help each other if we are going to combat the gorillas.

"It is difficult sometimes. Darren beat me all last season and he will be European champion for four years, and that's going to be a burden to me. But now that I have broken 10 seconds, Darren has to carry that weight. He's got to go out there now and do something himself."

Only a year ago at the last European Cup, the individual 100m place went to the high hurdler Colin Jackson because selectors were not convinced that any of the upcoming young talents had done enough to claim it. By way of a protest Chambers, Campbell and Jason Gardener, who took silver at the World Indoor Championships earlier this year, ran as fast or faster than Jackson in the B race. All three have come through now in their own right, and Chambers believes that a major factor in their emergence was the retirement of Christie, the man who has dominated British sprinting for the last decade.

"He was such a dominating force, but now he's gone, the doors have opened for the younger runners. It was great to show that Linford wasn't the only Brit who could run a sub-10 100. He's led the way for us and we have got to go on and capitalise on it."

Chambers knows that even if he runs faster in Seville, he may not be sure of a medal, but for now he is happy to have put himself into a position where, in his own words, he can start "dancing with the gorillas".

His quick step is getting quicker and quicker...

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

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Ashdown Group: Graduate UI Developer - HTML, CSS, Javascript

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Graduate UI Application Developer - ...

Ashdown Group: B2B Marketing Manager - Events, Digital, Offline

£45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: B2B Marketing Manager (Events, Digit...

Guru Careers: Senior Account Manager / SAM

£30 - 35k: Guru Careers: A Senior Account Manager / SAM is needed to join the ...

Day In a Page

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?
Season's finale brings the end of an era for top coaches and players across the continent

The end of an era across the continent

It's time to say farewell to Klopp, Clement, Casillas and Xavi this weekend as they move on to pastures new, reports Pete Jenson
Bin Laden documents released: Papers reveal his obsession with attacking the US and how his failure to keep up with modern jihad led to Isis

'Focus on killing American people'

Released Bin Laden documents reveal obsession with attacking United States
Life hacks: The innovations of volunteers and medical workers are helping Medécins Sans Frontières save people around the world

Medécins Sans Frontières's life hacks

The innovations of volunteers and medical workers around the world are helping the charity save people
Ireland's same-sex marriage vote: As date looms, the Irish ask - how would God vote?

Same-sex marriage

As date looms, the Irish ask - how would God vote?
The underworld is going freelance: Why The Godfather's Mafia model is no longer viable

The Mafia is going freelance

Why the underworld model depicted in The Godfather is no longer viable