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Lewis-Francis optimistic about season after first European appearance

5 June 2006
www.world-track.org


By Gary Smith

Olympic 4x100m relay gold medallist Mark Lewis-Francis says he's satisfied with the start of his European campaign, despite failing to make an impression at the IAAF Golden League Bislett Games in Oslo, Norway, on Friday, June 2.

Getting to where he wants to be

Lewis-Francis clocked 10.28 seconds to finish fifth in the second of the three heats behind American Olympic 200m champion Shawn Crawford and though he has been under the microscope of several top British news networks for being too content with mediocre performances, the former World Junior champion said he's where he wants to be in his preparation.

"You know I can't be upset," Lewis-Francis told the BBC after he failed to make it into the deciding race at the Bislett stadium Friday afternoon. "It's a start, you know at the end of it, it's a start."

"I just need to work on my start a bit more. I kind of messed up on my start, but apart from that I really can't complain," he added.

Lewis-Francis, who was disqualified from the 100 metres semi-final at this year's Commonwealth Games, is the fastest British sprinter so far this season with a time of 10.20 and he expressed delight with his first European performance for year, after moving to the train in the warm weather on U.S. soil.

"I've been running 10.42 and 10.43 in America so to come back and run my first European race and run 10.28, I can't really complain," he said.

More focus and ready to run

The Birmingham native, who captured 100m titles at the very first IAAF World Youth Championships in 1999 and returned to snatched the World junior crown the following year, is yet to win a major senior individual outdoor title, but he hinted that this could be his year.

"I am more focus (right now) and feel much stronger. I know the times aren't really showing right about now, but hopefully (I can) come out from 10.28, open up and get down to the 10.0…and see what happen.

"It would be so good though. Everything is coming together," Lewis-Francis continued. "You know, I'm an athlete at the end of the day and for me to say there's not a lot more to come would be no point in me even racing.

"There is definitely a lot more to come. Like I said (I) just got back from America, this is my first European race so I just got to keep my head on and keep going. It could have been a lot worst I could have ran 10.40 again so (I'm) just staying happy with that and carry on."

More races needed - only not race sharp

Following his return from Australia, Lewis-Francis clocked 10.42 at the Penn Relays for a disappointing sixth, but despite his unimpressive showing the Brit speedster is convinced he only needs more races under his belt to become race-sharp.

"I feel alright," he said, adding that he his physically ready to complete a full season. "Absolutely, nothing wrong with me. I just need to get race sharp and that's it really."

Apart from Lewis-Francis, Jason Gardener, a former World and European indoor 60m champion and Marlon Devonish, the 2002 Commonwealth Games 200m silver, who were all members of the surprised British 2004 Athens Olympic Games 4x100m relay team, also failed to make an impression in Oslo on Friday.

However, even with his world-weary performance, Lewis-Francis left the ExxonMobil Bislett Games as the top British sprinter. He his next scheduled to run at the Grand Prix in Gateshead on June 11, a meet in which co-world record holder Asafa Powell of Jamaica is headliner after American Justin Gatlin withdrew from the event.



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