• European Championships

Lemaitre wins 100m gold, no medal for Aikines-Aryeetey

ESPN staff
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Christophe Lemaitre claimed gold as Harry Aikines-Aryeetey struggled in the men's 100m final © PA Photos
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Christophe Lemaitre boosted his confidence ahead of London 2012 by successfully defending his 100m title at the European Championships in Helsinki, while Britain's Harry Aikines-Aryeetey missed out on a medal and the Olympic qualifying 'A' standard.

After two false starts, Lemaitre powered to glory in 10.09 seconds, edging out compatriot Jimmy Vicaut (10.12), with Norwegian Jaysuma Saidy Ndure taking third in 10.17s.

Aikines-Aryeetey could only muster 10.31s - the 'A' standard is 10.18s - which was only good enough for fourth place in a race where only five athletes crossed the finish line.

"I am massively upset. This year has just been terrible to me after last year being so good," he said. "At the start of the year nothing went right for me. As much as I wanted it, as much as I tried to do everything I could, nothing went my way.

"Even going to the Olympic Stadium for the test event, I tore a muscle walking - how unlucky can you get? I had to walk from the station to the warm-up, from the warm-up to the track and it's quite a long distance. Every day since winning the World Youths, I've been dreaming about being there [London 2012]."

Julia Bleasdale met the qualifying 'A' mark but fell away in the closing stages to miss out on a medal in the 5000m. Russia's Olga Golovkina pipped Sara Moreira and Lyudmyla Kovalenko for gold, with Bleasdale running a personal best of 15 minutes 12.77 seconds to claim fourth.

The Briton is in outstanding form: she shaved almost three minutes off her 10,000m best in April to become the fifth fastest British woman over the distance, although she must now wait to see whether she has done enough to get selected for Team GB for the Olympics.

"It will be a nervous few days and we will have to wait and see. It would be an honour to represent Britain at the Olympic Games," she said.

Reflecting on narrowly failing to win a medal, she added: "I gave it my all. I've got to go away and work on that final few laps. I know I can take it right to the end but not this time. I was aiming for the line as quickly as I could but I put in a bit too much work on the penultimate lap and that showed in the straight. I've got to learn to be a bit more patient."

Helen Clitheroe faces an agonising wait to see if she gets picked for London 2012 after finishing in 16th place in the 5000m. Injury problems have hindered her season but a season's best of 15:49.13 shows that she is getting back to full fitness.

"I had this opportunity and I've worked so hard to get back running that I felt I owed it to myself to have one last try to get in the team for London," she said. "But it's not to be unfortunately. Julia deserves to be selected. I don't think I've reached the criteria."

Lee McConnell finished third in her semi-final to progress to the women's 400m final, while Richard Buck qualified in the men's race after finishing second in his semi-final with a time of 46.13.

Lynsey Sharp and Jemma Simpson both did enough to book a spot in the women's 800m, but Gareth Warburton and Mukhtar Mohammed failed in their bid over the same distance.

Elsewhere, Rhys Williams and Nathan Woodward will battle it out for Olympic selection in Friday night's 400m hurdles final. World champion Dai Greene and training partner Jack Green are already assured of their London 2012 places, meaning one spot remains up for grabs.

Williams, who fell at the penultimate hurdle in the final at the Aviva Trials, said: "I'm using this opportunity to really get some confidence and make a name for myself. That's the plan. And obviously try to beat Nathan. This event seems to have been poo-pooed by British Athletics but it's given me a great opportunity. If there had been nothing else I would have been absolutely gutted. It's been another focus, another opportunity to 'get your act together, sort the race out, concentrate and put it right'. That's the beauty of these championships for me."

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