Athletics: Coach expects Lewis to compete in Paris

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The Independent Online

Denise Lewis will announce this week whether she will contest the heptathlon in next month's World Championships in France. After easily achieving the qualifying standard of 6,105 points when second in last weekend's European Cup of Combined Events in Tallinn, Lewis will make a decision after speaking with her advisors.

"My gut reaction is that she will go to Paris, but the decision will hers," said her coach, Frank Dick.

Dick had praise for Lewis' team of coaches who have helped her return to top-class competition after a long absence to have a child with a tally of 6,282 points - the fourth best performance in the world this year.

"They did really well and made a great job of getting Denise ready for the Championships. There was lots of pressure on her throughout the competition," he said.

"The way I operate is that I don't do all the coaching. I direct and control but brought in the right people who could make improvements to Denise's performances.

"In her case everything has worked perfectly, although I must say Denise being the great athlete she is, has led and orchestrated their input to what she thought needed doing. Major decisions have been hers."

Sweden's Carolina Kluft, the winner of the weekend meeting, along with former world champion Eunice Barber, of France, will start as favourites in Paris, but Dick insisted if Lewis does compete in the Stade de France, a medal is a possibility. "The long-term aim is obviously the defence of her Olympic title next year," he said.

"I think with normal progression in training and her massive self determination, Denise could pull off a score of between 6,450 and 6,500 points which would normally claim a medal position.

"She can only improve between now and then, and I think particularly in the high jump there is a chance to produce something much better."

Dick played down fears Lewis had a knee problem after she appeared wearing a bandage on her right leg in Estonia. "It was only an irritation and she wore it as a precaution," he said. "Actually she took it off for her final attempt in the long jump and she cleared an excellent 6.33 metres. There isn't a problem."

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