Vicaut's love affair with 60m | 10.02.2013
|French sprinter Jimmy Vicaut has been in sublime
form this indoor season. (Getty Images)
In fact, Lemaitre's inability to get past the heats, finishing sixth in a modest 6.71, looked pedestrian compared to Vicaut's 6.56 to win his preliminary before going on to equal his all time best in the final with a sparkling 6.53.
Admittedly, Lemaitre has been carrying an injury to his right gluteus since early February, but ever since Vicaut came within a hair's breadth of unseating Lemaitre in Helsinki last summer, Düsseldorf should be less of a surprise than it seems.
That time of 6.53 equals Michael Tumi's European leading clocking and places Vicaut alongside the Italian as co-favourite for the continental title to be decided in Göteborg March 1 – 3 at the European Athletics Indoor Championships.
Vicaut did not win the final in Düsseldorf, the honour going to Jamaica's Lerone Clarke, but the Frenchman was beaten by the slenderest of margins – 0.01 – in a race that demanded above all a cool head.
The field had been recalled twice because of false starts, but the 20 year old who runs for Paris Avenir Athlétic did not allow the tension to get to him.
That makes it four times this year that Vicaut has dipped under 6.60 in all his outings over the boards, giving him a marginal psychological advantage over Tumi who only has two, but including that all important national record of 6.53 in early February.
It all looks promising for the European junior Champion and senior silver medallist from Helsinki, but Vicaut issued a cautious warning when he spoke to the French federation website, Athle.com.
"The most important thing for me this winter is not to get injured. We (coach Guy Ontanon) don't take risks. Last year I was not looking after myself as I should. I did not even have any balneotherapy, but this year I am taking no chances. Sometimes Guy tells me to stop a training session if things are not going well. This time we want to be able to say we have had a good year."
In which case, 2013 could be an improvement on the last two years when Vicaut has failed to finish the indoor season because of injury. With the qualifying time for Göteborg in his pocket all he has to do is negotiate the French trials next weekend to reach Sweden in top form.
Last winter Vicaut also clocked 6.53 but he maintains his starts were not as good as they are now. In Germany it was noticeable how smooth they have become: "Looking at videos from last year, I can see the difference. My start used to be horrible, I came up too quickly, I was rushing. I need to learn to take my time more."
The 60m is the perfect distance for refining the start and with an eye on the summer season, Vicaut is happy with the way things are progressing: "The 60m is like the first part of the 100m. With another 40m added on, the objective would be to be capable of continuing in the same vein. This distance helps me to polish my start. I love the 60m."