Chambers leads British charge on Paris boards

Charles van Commenee, the hard taskmaster head coach of UK Athletics, was in distinctly chipper mood yesterday. "What better place to be?" he said, full of the joys of Parisian near-springtime on the eve of the European Indoor Championships. "I've been here seven times now and I've enjoyed every visit."

The native Amsterdammer was referring specifically to the Palais Omnisports de Bercy, the distinctive grass-walled complex next door to the British team hotel, by the banks of the Seine. It is there that the British team – minus such major players as the injured Jessica Ennis and the resting Phillips Idowu – will be contesting the first international championship of this pre-Olympic year, starting this morning and running through to Sunday. It is also there that Kylie Minogue will be performing on Tuesday week.

It was within these green walls that Britain gleaned their best gold medal haul in the 42-year history of the European Indoor Championships. That was five in 1994, courtesy of Colin Jackson (60m sprint and 60m hurdles), Du'aine Ladejo (400m), David Strang (1,500m) and Dalton Grant (high jump). Might that be matched come Sunday night by the British class of 2011? They should be so lucky.

"It's not the strongest team," Van Commenee conceded, "but I still expect to do better than two years ago. We won four medals then, including two golds. I expect more than four medals."

There ought to be twice as many medals for the British team in Bercy over the course of the next three days as there were in Turin in 2009. Whether there will be as many golds, however, is open to question.

Sitting alongside Van Commenee yesterday were the two golden boys of 2009, Dwain Chambers and Mo Farah. Both lead the European rankings ahead of the defence of their titles, but while Farah looks a gold-medal banker in the 3,000m (being more than five seconds quicker this year than his closest rival), Chambers is a 50-50 shot.

The 60m indoor distance is the 32-year-old Londoner's speciality. He has not lost over it since 7 March, 2008, when he finished joint runner-up behind Olusoji Fasuba of Nigeria at the World Indoor Championships in Valencia. Since then the big Belgrave Harrier – barred from Olympic competition because of the British Olympic Association ban on past doping offenders – has won European and World Indoor Championship gold. In the grass-covered Palais, however, he will be up against a rival who will be not so much on home turf as inside it.

Chambers knows all about the threat of Christophe Lemaître, the coltish 20-year-old French flyer who won European outdoor gold in the 100m, 200m and the 4x100m relay in Barcelona last summer and who gained global fame as the first white sprinter ever to break 10sec for 100m.

Chambers has the faster time over 60m on the boards this winter, but only just – 6.57sec to Lemaître's 6.58sec. There was only 0.01sec separating the pair going in to the 100m final in Barcelona last July, but as the Frenchman sped to a clear victory the Briton finished down in fifth – suffering from a hamstring injury he kept to himself rather than offer as an excuse.

Chambers has since moved on. He has a new coaching adviser in Dan Pfaff, whose past sprint charges include the 1996 Olympic 100m champion Donovan Bailey and Marion Jones in her pre-tainted days. There is a sense, however, that the seasoned Brit has business to finish against the young home hope in Paris.

"It did take me a long while to get over what happened in Barcelona," Chambers admitted yesterday. "That was my first real sense of loss in any major championships. I've had seconds and thirds, but nothing hurt as much as that.

"This is a great opportunity to race Lemaître again and match myself up against the best in Europe. We're both pretty much equal time-wise, so it will be very exciting."

Even more so, with a sell-out crowd screaming for the young French hero. "As I said to Dwain earlier this week," Van Commenee recounted, "the best scalps are home scalps."

Five Brits to follow

Dwain Chambers. Defends his 60m title against French flyer Christophe Lemaître. Heats tomorrow 9.30am, semis 3.30pm; final 3.55pm on Sunday.



Mo Farah. Dual European outdoor champion defends indoor 3,000m title. Heats today 10.15am; final 4.50pm Sat.



Helen Clitheroe. At 37, team captain heads the rankings at 3,000m. Heats tomorrow 10.30am; final 2.15pm Sunday.



Jenny Meadows. World outdoor and indoor medallist at 800m. Heats today 3.25pm; semis 2.20pm Sat; final 3pm Sun.



Nigel Levine. 400m prospect in great form. Heats today 9.50am, semis 5.05pm; final tomorrow 4.45pm.

Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and Clara have their first real heart to heart since he regenerated in 'Deep Breath'
TV
News
people
Life and Style
Apple showed no sign of losing its talent for product launches with the new, slightly larger iPhone 6 making headlines
techSecurity breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Arts and Entertainment
Tracy Emin's 1998 piece 'My Bed' on display at Christie's
artOne expert claims she did not
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Young Winstone: His ‘tough-guy’ image is a misconception
people
Sport
Ashley Barnes of Burnley scores their second goal
footballMan City vs Burnley match report
Arts and Entertainment
Man of action: Christian Bale stars in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film
News
The official police photograph of Dustin Diamond taken after he was arrested in Wisconsin
peopleDownfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Mayhew as Chewbacca alongside Harrison Ford's Han Solo in 'Star Wars'
film
News
Ernesto Che Guevara and Fidel Castro, right, met at Havana Golf Club in 1962 to mock the game
newsFidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Business Manager

£32000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Business Manager is required ...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager

£45000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Panel & Cabinet Wireman

£20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Panel Wireman required for small electro...

Recruitment Genius: Electronics Test Engineer

£25000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An SME based in East Cheshire, ...

Day In a Page

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

Who remembers that this week we enter the 150th anniversary year of the end of the American Civil War, asks Robert Fisk
Downfall of Dustin 'Screech' Diamond, the 'Saved By The Bell' star charged with bar stabbing

Scarred by the bell

The downfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Security breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Cuba's golf revolution: But will the revolutionary nation take 'bourgeois' game to its heart?

Will revolutionary Cuba take 'bourgeois' golf to its heart?

Fidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

Bad language once got TV viewers irate, inciting calls to broadcasting switchboards. But now there is a worse offender, says retiring head of the media watchdog, Ed Richards
War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?
Finally, a diet that works: Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced

Finally, a diet that works

Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced
Say it with... lyrics: The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches

Say it with... lyrics

The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches
Professor Danielle George: On a mission to bring back the art of 'thinkering'

The joys of 'thinkering'

Professor Danielle George on why we have to nurture tomorrow's scientists today
Monique Roffey: The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections

Monique Roffey interview

The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections
Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Their outrageousness and originality makes the world a bit more interesting, says Ellen E Jones