If Cindy Billaud was looking for a lucky omen on her way to the European Athletics Championships in Zurich, she could not have asked for anything better.
At the French National Championships in Reims on Saturday, Billaud did more than just equal the national record for the 100m hurdles as she ran 12.56 in the heats. With a brilliant performance, she took the first step in mirroring the success of the woman she now shares that leading mark with.
Back on 29 June 1990, in the build up to the European Athletics Championships in Split later that summer, Monique Ewanje-Epee set the record time in Villeneuve-d'Ascq. A few weeks later in Yugoslavia she won gold in 12.79.
No Frenchwoman has repeated that triumph at the European Athletics Championships since, but now Billaud finds herself in pole position for Zurich next month.
Her time is the best by a European athlete this summer and she followed it up by winning the final in 12.58.
Billaud has made the podium only once before at a major event with her bronze from the European Athletics Junior Championships in Kaunas in 2005, but she was seventh at the IAAF World Championships last summer and fourth in the 60m hurdles at the World Indoor Championships in Sopot in March.
A week ago in Torun, Billaud’s French teammate Florian Geffrouais did not finish the decathlon at the European Cup Combined Events Super League but he came back to form in Reims as he won with 8164, beating Gael Querin by just 40 points.
Now four Frenchman have achieved the qualifying standard for the European Athletics Championships with Kevin Mayer, the No. 1 with 8323 this summer, and Romain Martin with 8104.
It was very much a weekend for national championships with Zurich so close and the shot put had some impressive performances. In Novi Sad, Serbia’s Asmir Kolasinac won with 20.66m while in Varazdin, Croatia’s Nedzad Mulabegovic went that little bit further with 20.67m.
On the opening day of the Slovak Championships in Banska Bystrica, the women 100m saw two Zurich sprint standards as Lenka Krsakova, in 11.53, beat Alexandra Bezekova, in 11.55, while in the hammer, Martina Hrasnova did more than just secure a personal best with a throw of 75.27m. Her performance put her third on this year’s European Athletics rankings.
Swiss athletes will be determined to make an impression in Zurich and at the Meeting de la Gruyere in Bulle, Lea Sprunger was flying as she won the 100m in a personal best of 11.34.
THE WEEK AHEAD There are 48 meetings this week. Visit our European Athletics Calendar for all the details.