Obikwelu gearing up for Zurich

Obikwelu gearing up for Zurich
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Portugal's Francis Obikwelu, 3-time gold medallist at the European Athletics Championships intends to once again demonstrate his elite sprinting status in Zurich this summer.

It is approaching a decade since Francis Obikwelu ran 9.86 to break the European 100m record - and he is ready to celebrate that landmark by running in Zurich this summer.                

Portuguese star Obikwelu might now be 35 but there is no let up in his desire to be at the European Athletics Championships where his presence will add spice to an event where just a few men have come close to his times in the past 10 years.

His record run came in the Olympic final in Athens on August 22, 2004, when he powered through for second, so close to American Justin Gatlin who won in 9.85.

But will Obikwelu still be the holder of that 100m record on the exact date of the 10th anniversary this year?

That could be one of the burning questions of the summer because the men’s 100m at the European Athletics Championships in Zurich will be a fierce battle, with France’s Christophe Lemaitre chasing a hat-trick of crowns.

But from Portugal come reports that Obikwelu is in good shape and counting down to the championships in a year where age is proving no barrier to the fast men.

Kim Collins, of St Kitts & Nevis, is two years older than Obikwelu and he is planning to run at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

The Portuguese sprinter said, speaking to record.xl.pt: “My goal is to compete in the 100m. It's what I like.

“In the 200m, I still do not know how it will be, since I have not trained enough at this distance. There is still time and workouts are going very well.”

Obikwelu has some record at the European Athletics Championships, with 100m gold in Munich in 2002 after Dwain Chambers’ disqualification before retaining the title in Gothenburg in a Championship record of 9.99 at an event where he landed the sprint double by taking the 200m in a national record of 20.11, four years on from winning silver at the distance.

But it is that European 100m record which really has stood the test of time.

The nearest to it has been Churandy Martina, of the Netherlands, with his 9.91 at the Olympic Games in London in 2012, a mark matched by Great Britain’s James Dasaolu last summer.

Lemaitre’s quickest is 9.92 from 2011 while his French teammate Jimmy Vicaut recorded 9.95 in July.

Still, though, they cannot pass Francis Obikwelu – and now he is ready for the heat of the action again.