Monday, 9 August 2010

Euro Athletics - Barcelona (July work continued)

Farah cruises to First-ever British men’s 10,000m title -

Britain's Mo Farah took revenge for losing the 2006 title by a fraction of a second with a resounding victory here in Barcelona last night.

Closing with a sizzling 57 second final lap, 'Fly Mo', as he is affectionately known, took an expected victory in the tactical 25-lap race; reaching the line in 28:24.99, and striding away in comfortable fashion.

“The first (outdoor) European gold feels great,” said the 27-year-old, who is also captured the 2009 European indoor 3000m and 2006 cross-cuontry title.

“It was many years of hard work to achieve this goal. Each year I feel I have been thinking about it, so to get the gold - I just can't believe it. I have made a lot of sacrifices and it means a lot to me to win the gold," he said.

On the expected but still mind-blowing British 1-2 with his slightly older team-mate, Chris Thompson, Farah continued:

"I'm really happy - I'm chuffed with the race and I'm really happy for Chris as well because we go way back. I hope we have made everyone back home proud."

Farah's was the slowest winning time at these championships since East German Manfred Kuschmann's 28:25.8 victory in 1974 but the former Somalian will need fresh legs in the 5000m on Saturday, where he'll face a significantly stronger challenge.

“I need to recover fast,” explained Farah, "but I’ve got it going on.”

With Farah’s win secure, the thrilling tussling for the remaining medals began.

Thompson, who improved to 27:29.61 this year, began to make up ground on the fading Lamdassem (of France); reaching the line in virtual inseparable fashion. Both were credited with a 28:27.33, with the photo reading giving Thompson the silver.

“This is the first season in a long time that I have competed without injuries,” Thompson revealed. “And for me, being second behind Mo Farah, is like a gold medal. He’s an incredible athlete and no one could beat him tonight."

After years of being plagued with injury, the USA-based runner said of his renaissance:

"That took all my energy to get to the second place it really did. I'm reading Steve Redgrave's book at the moment for inspiration and he talked about a race in 1987 when he thought he was gone at halfway but just dug in and won.

"I was just thinking - four laps, three laps, two laps. I told myself to be positive about everything I was doing and just wanted to keep pushing really hard."

Billed as a showdown between Frenchman Christophe Lemaitre and Briton Dwain Chambers, the men’s 100m final was last night decided in comfortable fashion.

20-year-old Lemaitre – fresh from his scintillating 9.98 arlier in the month – sped to a sure-fire victory over a resurgent Mark Lewis-Francis; another Briton who was not expected to feature highly.

Indeed in a race full of surprises which held the crowd on tenterhooks, France’s Martial Mbandjock snatched the bronze; leaving Chambers reeling in a disappointing fifth.

Blasting through the pack from the 80m point and adding to his world and European junior titles, Lemaitre revealed his opinion on his 10.11 clocking; the slowest in this championship in 16-years:

“After a brilliant year, my objective was gold. I didn’t have a good start but picked up very well on my speed. It was a brilliant final and I’m very, very happy tonight,” he said.

Behind him, a blanket finish for the remaining medals ensured a nail-biting wait for the outcome to be delivered. Remarkably, 2nd to 5th place were all credited with a 10.18!

Yet for Lewis Francis, whose career has been blighted by long term injury issues since taking Olympic 4x100m relay gold in 2004, it was a moment of pure joy, having been added to the individual 100m slot following a clear display of form at the Aviva preparation camp in Monte Gordo, and justifying that call by literally taking home the silverware.

“I’m European Silver medallist – wow!” was his initial reaction.“I got to the final on a lucky star and I got to these championships on a lucky star. 2010 is my year I am the happiest man in the world I cannot complain – I said I’d take fourth place before the final and I ended up with second.

“We stuck to the plan in training for the individual and I was able to run it. I knew it was going to be tough to go out there and do anything crazy. I just wanted to go out there and enjoy the moment.”

Women’s javelin: Thursday evening provided a thrilling session of athletics, mostly courtesy of a trio of inspired Germans. In the women’s javelin throw, the event favourite Barbara Spotakova (CZE – 65m36) was upstaged by two resurgent throwers sporting the black, red and yellow colours in scintillating fashion.

Firstly, Christina Obergfoll (65m58)spoiled the Czech party, before her compatriot Linda Stahl produced a superb personal-best performance with a giant throw of 66m81 in the fifth round to claim the continental title in impeccable and shocking style.

An elated Stahl revealed her feelings on her surprise victory: “It’s an unbelievable feeling. Right after my throw, I didn’t even realise how far I threw the javelin. I didn’t expect it at all. It was not easy to throw due to the wind, so I focused on throwing not too high. I’m happy to share the podium with Christina.”

Obergfoll graciously returned the favour with praise for the winner: “I have suffered from muscle cramp during this competition. Then Linda achieved a great throw in the fifth round. It is a shame for me to get the silver medal. However, I am happy to get any medal.”

Women’s 100m: The happiest athlete award of the night must go to Germany’s Verena Sailer; the popular winner of the women’s 100m final.

Blasting to a 11.10 personal best, the shocked athlete capitalised on having the fastest reaction in the field to scorch to victory ahead of two French sprinters; Veronique Mang and Myriam Soumare.

Eyes and mouth wide open is disbelief and elation, Sailer commented shortly afterwards: “Wow, I’m the European champion. It feels great. I can’t believe it, the race was amazing.”

Dancing around in celebration, the silver and bronze medallists also spoke of their shock after additionally registering lifetime best marks:

“I had a good feeling during the run. When you are here in Barcelona in the European championships, you only want to give your best, I did. The run was fantastic. I have really enjoyed this particular moment of my career. I love being here. It is like a dream,” explained Mang.

Soumare continued: “After a difficult beginning to this season, I put everything in this race. I cannot believe what I achieved, I am so happy to win the bronze medal. I have put all my strength in this run. It was fantastic when I saw my name on the screen. It is just happiness.”

In another thrilling night of action, the Olympic stadium was kept on their toes with baited breathe once again as the three men’s finals of Thursday produced outstanding performances.

Men’s high jump: Aleksander Shustov lead a Russain one-two with his 2m33 clearance at his first attempt ahead of 24-year-old Ivan Ukhov (2m31) and Britain’s Martyn Bernard in third place (with a 2m29 season’s best).

Shustov was delighted with his winning display in less than ideal conditions: “From the beginning, it was not going well because of the rain bit then I found the courage to jump higher. I talked to my coach and gave my best. Sincerely, when Ukhov cleared 2m31, I was thinking to skip my third attempt, but the coach insisted not to do it. So it was the right decision because I jumped 2m33 first and finally won the gold.”

Men’s decathlon: Exciting would not sum up this contest enough, as Frenchman Romain Barras narrowly captured the decathlon crown by 17 points last night. With a consistent series a very impressive displays in most events, Barras registered 8453-points ahead of the Netherland’s Eelco Sintnicolaas (8436) and Andrei Krauchanka (BEL – 8370).

After celebrating with his twenty other finishers, Barras revealed: “The competition was very tight. At the beginning of the last race, only five points were between me and the Dutch, Sintnicolaas. The competition was open and everything was possible. I had to win the 1500m to be sure to win the decathlon.”

The silver medallist was nevertheless a happy man, also: “It was an outstanding competition. All the while, I was fighting with my main rival, Romain. I thought I could catch him during the 1500m discipline but at the 1,000m point of the race, he accelerated and it was then that I realised it was impossible. My objective was to improve on my personal best and I achieved that.”

Men’s triple jump: The reigning world indoor champion, Phillips Idowu (GBR) posted his most consistently high display of jumps for years when it mattered most yesterday. With a best of 17m81 from the fourth round, Idowu’s new personal best was a clear 30cm ahead of runner-up Marian Oprea (ROU) and his main rival for the gold; an under-performing Teddy Tamgho (FRA – 17m45).

Idowu explained afterwards: “It feels fantastic to have jumped my personal best. My build up to the championships was not great but I am very happy to have been able to jump consistently today. I am a good athlete with the world and European championship titles now under my belt. I am just missing one title – the Olympics.”

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