Britain's youthful prospect unfazed by Greene

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The Independent Online

Britain's junior sprinter Mark Lewis-Francis graces the same stage as the defending world champion, Maurice Greene, here today insisting: "I am not going to worry about him." The 18 year old will compete against the likes of the Olympic gold medallist and Trinidad's Ato Boldon for the first time when the heats of the 100 metres get underway in the Commonwealth Stadium.

However, Lewis-Francis insists he will not be fazed by facing the world's best sprinters and has not ruled out winning a medal on his world championship debut.

"I am just going to be myself and think about my race and not worry about people like Maurice Greene," said the Birmingham sprinter, who has avoided a first-round meeting with the world record holder, although he will face the third-ranked American, Curtis Johnson.

"There is no pressure on me out here. No one is expecting me to come away with a medal. But who knows? It's like the World Indoors when I didn't expect to get a medal but I did."

Lewis-Francis, who won 60m bronze in Lisbon last March, added: "Some of the big guns were not there, and here there is a bit more pressure because it's the 100m. But that's my favourite event – if I reach the final that's the biggest achievement I could get."

Max Jones, Britain's performance director, said: "Mark is somebody who can come through here. I think he could shock a lot of people because he has got no regard for anybody.

"I saw him at the World Indoors and thought he would be doing well if he reached the final and he just went a stage further and took it to a different level and he can do the same here.

"Then he was like he is now, a jack the lad walking about like in a dream, but as soon as the call-up for the race comes he is just different. I am sure the World Indoors must have proved that he can compete with the best."

Lewis-Francis is already being tipped as a future Olympic champion following an impressive junior career which brought him world and European titles before his first senior medal, when he set a world junior record for the 60m.

But the Birchfield Harrier believes his team-mate Dwain Chambers could be the next British sprinter to make a real impact by defeating Greene in the 100m this weekend.

"I reckon if Dwain keeps his cool and he runs the way he can he will beat him," said Lewis-Francis of Chambers, who won bronze when Greene took the title in Seville two years ago.

Chambers, Lewis-Francis and Wales's Christian Malcolm, whose main event will be the 200m later in the championships, face two rounds today before the semi-final and final tomorrow.

Britain's three 400m hopefuls – Mark Richardson, Jamie Baulch and Iwan Thomas – will also be in action in their opening round.

Richardson, his name cleared after an 18-month battle against a drugs charge, has been eager to play down his medal chances but the event has been thrown wide-open by the retirement of the four-times champion, Michael Johnson.

"I am just going out there to take each round as it comes," said Richardson, who feels that no one has really stamped their authority on the event this year. "I face a huge challenge and I need a lot of things to go my way – but I think I am overdue a bit of luck."

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