I can take criticism, says Lewis-Francis

Mark Lewis-Francis might have stopped short of applying for membership of the Michael Johnson Fan Club but yesterday he ventured almost as far as thanking the former sprinter for criticising his celebrations after his surprise 100m silver at the European Championships.

Johnson, speaking in the BBC commentary box in Barcelona in July, had said of the Briton: "I didn't appreciate his lack of graciousness, telling his critics, of which I was one, to 'Shush!' Quiet me at the World Championships next year."

Speaking yesterday from the English track and field team's preparation camp in Doha, Lewis-Francis said: "Michael Johnson is a great athlete. I have no qualms with Michael Johnson. I've actually learnt a lot from what he said because he was talking the truth. But in my eyes the European Championships is on the same level as a World Championships or an Olympics as an achievement."

Asked what he had learned from Johnson's comments, Lewis-Francis replied: "I have to stay humble. I don't think I was arrogant in any way. I was just expressing my feelings at the time. For me, it was a big achievement. That was my Olympics. That was my World Championships. If Michael Johnson went through what I went through in the last 18 months he'd know why I said what I said, but I don't let things like that affect me in any way."

In the absence of Usain Bolt and Asafa Powell from the Delhi Games, Lewis-Francis, who endured injury problems and loss of form before his Barcelona success, has an excellent chance of another medal.