Lemaitre bags third gold

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BARCELONA, August 2 – French sprint king Christophe Lemaitre won his third gold of the European Championships on Sunday as his country stormed to victory in the men's 4x100m relay.France were the clear favourites thanks to Lemaitre’s triumphs in the individual 100m and 200m as well as Martial Mbandjock’s double bronze medal efforts.

But it was a tight final with the French winning in a time of 38.11sec while Italy took silver, just six hundreths of a second behind. Germany came home in third.

"We worked very well together. Of all the medals won this one feels the most precious because it was a team effort," said Lemaitre, who became the first white sprinter to break the magical 10-second barrier for the 100m last month.

There was disappointment for France in the women’s 4x100m relay with the Ukraine the surprise winners leaving a team which included silver and bronze medallists in the individual event – Veronique Mang and Myriam Soumare – in second.

The impressive performance from the Ukraine saw them set the fastest time in the world this year.

Russia were also left to wonder what went wrong as they had brought a strong team to Barcelona it left without a medal with Poland taking bronze.

"We have been working together for many years and training hard on passing the baton. This was the perfect stage to show how good we really are and clocking the world’s fastest time is unbelievable," said Yelizaveta Bryzhina.

There was no magical finale for Merlene Ottey who, at 50, was the oldest athlete in history to take part at the European Championships.

Her Slovenian quartet had failed to make it out of the semi-finals.

Russia had double success in the men’s and women’s 4x400m relays.

They have an embarrassment of riches in the women’s individual event and so it was no surprise to see them storm away to victory and the battle was more for second place which Germany took just ahead of Great Britain.

The men’s event was a tighter affair and they just held on to gold ahead of Britain with Belgium third.

High jump’s current world star Blanka Vlasic took gold as expected with a jump of 2.03m.

The double world champion has not been reaching the heights she has set herself in previous years but she is still way out in front and won the competition ahead of Emma Green, of Sweden, and Germany’s Ariane Friedrich.

French duo Mahiedine Mekhissi-Benabbad and Bouabdallah Tahri dominated the 3000m steeple chase to take gold and silver while Spain’s Jose Luis Blanco took bronze.

Nuria Fernandez produced an inspired run in the women’s 1,500m to claim gold with a personal best while Spain’s Natalia Rodriguez took silver.

Bronze went to France’s Hind Dehiba, while favourite Anna Alminova, of Russia, was well down in sixth.

Former world-record holder Elvan Abeylegesse was unable to add the 5,000m to her 10,000m crown with her Turkish team-mate Alemitu Bekele overtaking her in the final straight.

It was a tough battle between the pair and Sara Moreira, of Portugal, but with perhaps her legs having tired from the exertion earlier in the week, Abeylegesse was unable to stretch away and Bekele came past her.

She did have enough though to hold out for second ahead of Moreira.

German Christian Reif set the season’s world best distance to win the long jump gold.

He also smashed the championship record as he leapt to 8.47m. Second and third went to Kafetien Gomis, of France, and Britain’s Chris Tomlinson.

World and Olympic silver medallist Piotr Malachowski, of Poland, took gold in the discus with Robert Harting and Robert Fazekas, of Germany and Hungary, respectively winning silver and bronze.

A determined race from Swiss Victor Rothlin led him to a comprehensive victory in the marathon in the morning session.

He romped home a considerable distance ahead of the rest in a time of 2:15.31, with Spain’s Chema Martinez and Russia’s Dmitriy Safronov, second and third.

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