Sluggish Bolt beats Lemaitre as Tomlinson delivers on his talent

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The Independent Online

For Chris Tomlinson, there was a quantum leap in Paris last night: a British long jump record of 8.35 metres.

For Usain Bolt, the bill-topping performer at the IAAF Diamond League meeting on the north side of French capital, there was 15 minutes of going nowhere while an electrical fault was repaired before the 200m could get underway and not even the Crackerjack Pencil of a consolation record at the end of a trying day for the world's fastest man.

There was a victory for Bolt but in a rare 20sec-plus time for the Jamaican phenomenon who holds the freakish world record figures of 19.19 seconds.

Despite the frustration of the hold up, which drew boos from the Parisian crowd, Bolt got off to a cracking start and entered the home straight with a clear lead. Having been caught by an overnight cold, however, he took his foot off the throttle in the final 20m and, in doing so, missed the meeting record of 20.01sec that has stood to Michael Johnson since 1990.

Still, a cantering victory in 20.03sec – 0.18sec ahead of the young Frenchman Christophe Lemaitre – was a satisfactory enough conclusion to a day the Lightning Bolt had started by being struck down by flu, to such a degree that he considered withdrawing from the race.

He failed to appear at last night's customary pre-meeting parade of the stars but arrived at the track tweeting the message: "Ppl I'm good..born African flu will stop this run."

The electronics almost did but Bolt is now unbeaten in 15 successive 200m races. His last defeat at the distance dates back to September 2007.

It was back in 2002 that Tomlinson first leapt into the British record book. Competing in an early-season meeting in Tallahassee, Florida, the lanky Teessider – a training partner of Jonathan Edwards, holder of the triple jump world record – long jumped 8.27m. In doing so, at the age of 20, he eclipsed Lynn Davies' 34-year-old British record of 8.23m.

Nine years on, Tomlinson had only advanced his personal best by a further 2cm before he set off down the runway for his third-round jump in the Stade de France last night. The 8.29m he jumped at Bad Langensalza in Germany in 2007 had been broken as a national record when Greg Rutherford achieved 8.30m in the qualifying round of the World Championships in Berlin in 2009.

A major step forward had been long overdue by the richly-talented Tomlinson and it came in the French capital as he launched himself out to 8.35m. In doing so, the Middlesbrough man propelled himself into fourth place in the world rankings for this year.

At 29, having landed his first major championship medal last summer, winning bronze at the European Championships in Barcelona, Tomlinson looks to be in the throes of finally beginning to fulfill his rich potential.

At 30, Jenny Meadows has been among the world's elite in the women's 800m for two years now. The Wiganer made her big breakthrough at those 2009 World Championships, taking bronze in a race won by a distance by the 18-year-old Caster Semenya. The pair were both in action in Paris and Meadows led the way until her South African rival, cleared to return to competition a year ago after undergoing gender tests, overtook around the final bend.

Meadows, the 5ft 1in "pocket rocket," gave chase down the home straight but faded to third as the muscular Semenya, after a beguilingly indifferent run of form, finished a clear winner in 2min 00.18sec.