Lemaitre tastes gold for third time to create piece of history

Sprinter helps France win 4x100m relay to add to his 100m and 200m titles

Christophe Lemaitre become the first sprinter to win three golds at the European Championships after helping France to the 4x100m relay title last night.

Lemaitre ran the second leg down the back straight before Martial Mbandjock raced past Italy's Maurizio Checcucci to help France to the win in 38.11 seconds.

Lemaitre became the first Frenchman to win the 100m-200m sprint double – and the seventh overall – earlier in the championships. Italy took silver in 38.17 and Germany bronze in 38.44 at Barcelona's Olympic stadium. Mbandjock also added a third medal to his tally after taking bronze in the 100m and 200m.

Despite his successes in Barcelona, however, Lemaitre is not ready to race against Usain Bolt or Tyson Gay, according to former Olympic champion Valery Borzov. "He's young and he's strong but I'm a little sceptical," Borzov said before yesterday's 4x100 race. "He needs to get to 9.60 [seconds] and it's not possible now, maybe only in a few years. I'm not sure he can compete with the Americans or the Jamaicans."

Borzov won the 100m and 200m at the 1972 Munich Olympics for the former Soviet Union and is a four-time gold medalist at the Europeans.

Lemaitre won the 100m in 10.11 seconds and the 200m in 20.37 in Barcelona. Bolt's world records in those two events are 9.58 and 20.13; Gay has the world's second fastest 100 time of 9.69.

Former Olympic champion Sebastian Coe, however, did not expect Bolt or Gay to dismiss Lemaitre, whose personal best is 9.98. "They won't be laughing because competition at the highest level is not just about times," said Coe, who twice won 1,500m Olympic gold and is the head of the London 2012 Olympics organizing committee.

"Lemaitre is 20 years old, he has two very good training years and competitive years in front of him. He has to be quicker. It would be very surprising though if he was slower in two years' time than he is now."

Coe also believes that holding the European Championships every two years will help make athletes from the continent more competitive at global events, even though the next edition will be held just a month before the 2012 Olympic Games. The 2012 European Championships in Helsinki will be staged from 27 June to 1 July. The London Olympics get under way on 27 July.

"We have to get a tradition of running back again, but I do think that tradition is better served by having a European Championships in the public domain twice every four years [rather] than once every four years," Coe explained yesterday.

"I think that every two years is a very good thing. I've always believed actually that if we were restructuring this again we would have had the continental championship every two years and the world championships only once every four years. So I think this is about as good as it will get," he added.

The European championships have largely been staged every four years since their debut in 1934 but a change in schedule was proposed in 2007, when 47 of the 50 European Athletics member federations accepted a biennial event.

Britain's head athletics coach, Charles van Commenee, explained to a news conference on the eve of this year's European Championships in Barcelona that, by staging the event every two years, they were in fact in danger of devaluing it.

The Dutchman also said that it was unlikely any British track athletes selected for the 2012 Olympics would compete at the Europeans in Helsinki because of the proximity of the two events.

But Coe was quick to brush these fears aside, saying: "Athletes will make a judgment about what suits their plans. I don't think we should get too excited about it [the closeness of the events]. It happens occasionally.

"It just happens that this year the Olympic Games happen to be in Europe. It makes life a little more complicated but it is still important that we have important events every two years. I think athletes will have to decide for themselves [whether to compete in both], but that's what good coaching is about."

The director general of the Spanish athletics federation, Jose Luis de Carlos Macho, also did not think having the two events in 2012 would pose a problem.

"The majority of Spanish athletes will compete in both and it's only possible that there'll be a few exceptions," he said. "The Spanish federation prefers that the Europeans are held every two years. It's a step forward for European athletics."

Voices
Homeless Veterans charity auction: Cook with Angela Hartnett and Neil Borthwick at Merchants Tavern
charity appeal
Sport
Amir Khan is engaged in a broader battle than attempting to win a fight with Floyd Mayweather
boxing Exclusive: Amir Khan reveals plans to travel to Pakistan
Arts and Entertainment
Caroline Flack became the tenth winner of Strictly Come Dancing
tvReview: 'Absolutely phenomenal' Xtra Factor presenter wins Strictly Come Dancing final
Sport
Ched Evans in action for Sheffield United in 2012
footballRonnie Moore says 'he's served his time and the boy wants to play football'
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
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: Finance Director

£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

Recruitment Genius: Medico-Legal Assistant

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

The Jenrick Group: Quality Inspector

£27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...

Day In a Page

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef creates an Italian-inspired fish feast for Christmas Eve

Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

Bill's Italian friends introduced him to the Roman Catholic custom of a lavish fish supper on Christmas Eve. Here, he gives the tradition his own spin…
Liverpool vs Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his reputation

Rodgers fights for his reputation

Liverpool manager tries to stay on his feet despite waves of criticism
Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick