Lemaitre on form in London with European-leading 19.91 | 15.07.2012
|Christophe Lemaitre of France clocked a European
season-leading 200m time of 19.91 to win at the
Diamond League meeting in London on Saturday.
He just held off another Helsinki champion, The Netherlands' Churandy Martina, who took the longer sprint title in the absence of the Frenchman in the event in the Finnish capital recently.
Lemaitre ran a great bend in lane six matched by Martina one lane outside him and the pair duelled all the way down the home straight, before the former just edged in front in the final few metres.
"I knew I could run under 20 seconds but to do that here is very good, two weeks before the Olympic Games," said Lemaitre.
"Now I'm very confident over this distance. For the Olympic Games I want to go even faster, because with Bolt, Blake and the other sprinters I think I must beat my personal best if I want to win a medal."
Martina was timed at 19.95, just one-hundredth shy of his recent Dutch record.
Another European athlete in good form was British javelin thrower Goldie Sayers, launched her spear out to national record of 66.17m with her first throw. She improved on her own previous record of 65.75m, which she achieved when she finished fourth at the 2008 Olympics.
"This was one of my best days on an athletics track," said Sayers, who celebrates her 30th birthday on Monday. "It's a nice present. It's been a long time coming and it's very good timing but as all athletes say, there's definitely a lot more left in there so I just need to find how to get it out at the Games when it matters."
Czech Republic's world record holder Barbora Špotáková was second with 64.19m while Ukraine's recently-minted European champion Vira Rebryk was third with 63.80m
Another British athlete to excel in front of her home crowd was 2008 Olympic Games 400m champion Christine Ohuruogu who clocked 50.42m over one lap of the Crystal Palace track, her best time for three years.
"I just wanted to sharpen up for London," said Ohuruogu. "I've done all the work so I'm happy that I can take something like that away. It's good that I put the race together and came out with a strong time."
Poland's 2011 European Athletics Indoor Championships 800m gold medallist Adam Kszczot showed a good turn of speed over the final 200m to win over two laps of the track in 1:44.49.
Romania's Ancuta Bobocel won the 3000m steeplechase in a personal best of 9:27.24 while Latvia's former European junior champion Polina Jelizarova reduced her own national record for the fourth time this summer when she finished second in 9:28.27.
Britain's Perri Shakes-Drayton flew over the barriers on Friday to beat a very good 400m hurdles field that included Russia's new European champion Irina Davydova.
The 23-year-old, who lives and trains less than a mile from the Olympic Stadium, hadn't run faster than 55.25 this year but will now have to be considered a medal contender as she overtook Davydova coming off the bend to finish in 53.77, to go joint first on the 2012 European rankings.
Behind her, Davydova finished second in 54.63.
At the only two-day event on the Samsung Diamond League calendar, 2011 European Athlete of the Year Mo Farah also brought the local crowd to its feet with a stunning final tow laps to secure an eventually comfortable victory over 5000m
After splits of 2:35.49, 5:16.07, 7:58.38 and 10:39.11, Farah uncorked a final 800m of 1:53.5 to leave the rest of the field trailing in his wake before crossing the line in 13:06.04.
Germany's 2012 European Athletics Championships pole vault silver medallist Björn Otto went over 5.74m with his third attempt to clinch the win but the competition was notable for France's two-time European champion Renaud Lavillenie succumbing to his first defeat of the summer.
France's Romain Mesnil and Germany's Raphael Holzdeppe both cleared 5.66m with the former finishing second due to fewer failures but Lavillenie could go no higher than 5.40m.
Estonia's Gerd Kanter beat Lithuania's two-time Olympic champion Virgilijus Alekna in the discus but the wet circle made for some modest distances on Friday with Kanter winning with his second round 64.85m.
Alekna was second with 63.71m and Great Britain's 2011 European Athletics U23 Championships gold medallist Lawrence Okoye third with 63.33m.