Lemaitre beats lack of sleep to keep alive sprint double dream

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The Independent Online

France's new European 100 metres champion Christophe Lemaitre showed no ill effects from a lack of sleep, starting his bid for a second gold with a comfortable victory in his 200m heat yesterday.

Lemaitre took the 100m title late on Wednesday but appeared no worse for his exertions as he pulled away in the straight to qualify for the semi-finals in 20.64 seconds. "I didn't sleep much so it was hard to wake up this morning," said the quietly spoken 20-year-old. "I told myself that it would be difficult this morning. I was a bit scared.

"The legs are working. I'm in good spirits and that bodes well for what's still to come," added Lemaitre, the first Frenchman to win the European 100m title for 48 years.

The 200m title, to be decided today, will have a new home after 2006 champion Francis Obikwelu, of Portugal, did not start his heat because of a muscle strain. A Portuguese team spokesman said they were hopeful the sprinter would be fit for the 4 x 100m relay.

Norway's Jaysuma Saidy Ndure, sixth in the 100m final, was the fastest qualifier over the longer sprint in 20.60. The semi-finals were scheduled to take place later last night.

Overnight leader Oleksiy Kasyanov withdrew from the decathlon after an undisclosed injury meant he was unable to run the 110m hurdles, the first of yesterday's disciplines.Lithuanian Darius Draudvila had a 49-point lead over Olympic silver medallist Andrei Krauchanka of Belarus after seven of the 10 events. The decathlon was scheduled to continue last night with the pole vault, javelin and final event 1,500m.

Stanislav Olijar's 110m hurdles title defence came to an abrupt end when the Latvian was disqualified from his heat for a false start. Hungary's Daniel Kiss was the quickest of the qualifiers for today's semis with a time of 13.44. Europe's leading hurdler this year, Petr Svoboda of the Czech Republic also won his heat in 13.50.

Britain's Andy Turner, ranked third in Europe this year, produced a near-flawless display to win his heat in 13.48 sec, making him the second fastest qualifier for the semi-finals. But the 29-year-old admitted he feared being disqualified for a false start when Olijar reacted too quickly in the next lane.

"I felt a little bit scared when I saw the red marker next to my name," Turner said. "I'd reacted off Olijar, he'd false started and then I went, but it's been known for them to disqualify two people. But luckily I maintained my composure and just did what I had to do. It was a comfortable run, not flat out.

"I actually ran 13.30 in Lausanne from lane eight when the guy in lane seven was disqualified so I thought it might be a good omen but in a race like this you've got to forget everyone around you and concentrate on your 10 hurdles.

"The person in the final who wins the gold is the one who will make the least mistakes on the day and that's what it's all about tomorrow," Turner added. "I feel good, my Achilles problems have cleared up now, I've had a full whack of training in the last few weeks and training has been going well. I feel so relaxed and refreshed and raring to go."

Team-mate William Sharman, who beat Turner in the trials, also advanced to the semi-finals, but only finished third in his heat in 13.60. "I'm glad to get through, that's all that matters," said Sharman, who is running despite not having fully recovered from a broken wrist suffered in training in January. "I hit the second hurdle and that affected my acceleration but I managed to hang on to what I had."

World bronze medallist Renaud Lavillenie needed two attempts at the automatic qualifying height of 5.65m before safely going through to tomorrow's pole vault final. Lavillenie, unbeaten in nine competitions outdoors this season, led a trio of French qualifiers as Romain Mesnil and Damiel Dossevi also went through.

Russia's Nadezhda Alekhina sailed out to 14.93m on her final attempt of the triple jump qualifying to record the longest distance of the competition and reach tomorrow's final.

All three of Britain's entrants in the 200m advanced to the semi-finals, Christian Malcolm and Marlon Devonish winning their heats in 20.63sec and 20.68sec respectively, while Jeffrey Lawal-Balogun was third in his heat in 20.93sec.

Malcolm lost his lottery funding last year along with Mark Lewis-Francis, and admitted the latter's shock silver medal in the 100m last night was a "great inspiration."

"Me and Mark have been good friends, we struggled together this year and it's good for him to get what he deserved through hard work and hopefully I will get mine."

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