Dwain Chambers discovered last night the ground he still has to make up if he is to challenge the world 100 metres champion Maurice Greene for his title this year.
Chambers ran 10.00 seconds, his fastest time of the season, in the Athletissima meeting in Lausanne, but had to settle for third place behind Greene, who won in 9.90sec, and the American sprinter's training partner Ato Boldon, who clocked 9.99.
The race stood as a first proper rehearsal for the World Championship final, involving the main obvious contenders for an event that will be decided on 4 August in Edmonton. The fact that Greene once again limped away from the track with an apparent problem with his left knee, as he had done after winning the Golden League meeting in Rome five days earlier, only added to the psychological impact of his performance, although he denied afterwards that he had been hindered.
"With all these fans here I don't feel any pain," he said. The same could not be said of the protestor who was punched in the face by a security guard after opponents of Beijing's bid to host the 2008 Olympics had staged a demonstration on the infield. As Juan Antonio Samaranch, who will step down as president of the International Olympic Committee within the next fortnight, looked on from the stands, the placard-carrying protestors were removed from the stadium to a barrage of boos and whistles.
Greene's performance made it clear that he is not planning to relinquish a title he first won in 1997 despite the aspirations which Chambers, who won bronze behind him two years ago, harbours. But Chambers's coach, Mike McFarlane, took a phlegmatic view of the action.
"We are about a metre down, which is a nice place to be at this time of the year," he said. "This has been a stepping stone for Dwain on the way to Edmonton – it was a hard race, and everyone was there. We can now go away and work on some bits and pieces – we will get it right in the next four weeks. But Dwain is running 10 flat now, and we are on the way up."
Among the things which Chambers will be working on is his start, which let him down in Sunday's Norwich Union Challenge, where he was beaten by America's Jon Drummond, and was less than perfect last night. "It could have been better," McFarlane said. "But that is something we know we can improve."
Marion Jones made a similar statement of intent to Greene in the women's 100m, beating the world's fastest woman this season, Zhanna Pintusevich of Ukraine, into fourth place with a time of 11.05sec. But the American was dissatisfied with the level of her performance. "The race was technically very lousy," she said.Reuse content