Athletics: Lemaitre's gold rush
Published 02/08/2010 | 05:00
Christophe Lemaitre became the first sprinter to win three golds at the European Championships after helping France win the 4x100m relay title yesterday.
Lemaitre ran the second leg down the back straight before anchor Martial Mbandjock raced past Italy's Maurizio Checcucci for France to clock 38.11 seconds. Italy took silver in 38.17 and Germany claimed the bronze in 38.44 at Barcelona's Olympic Stadium.
Lemaitre became the first Frenchman to win the 100m-200m sprint double -- and the seventh overall -- earlier in the championships and his treble put France on its way to matching Russia's event-leading eight golds on the final night of competition.
After the French women were beaten by Ukraine in the 4x100m relay, France matched Russia's total when Mahiedine Mekhissi-Benabbad led Bouabdellah Tahri in a one-two sweep of the men's 3,000m steeplechase in 8:07.87. Spain's Jose Luis Blanco won bronze.
Earlier, Viktor Rothlin made up for European silver four years ago with a victory in the men's marathon to give Switzerland its first gold.
"This was my 19th marathon and it felt like the first," said Rothlin, who won in a time of 2 hours, 15 minutes and 31 seconds. "My career might as well have been over after today, but the only thing I can say now is that I'm back!"
Spain's Jose Manuel Martinez -- a former European champion in the 10,000m -- won silver ahead of Russia's Dmitriy Safronov in hot, humid conditions on the streets of Barcelona.
Stefano Baldini's return to defend his title ended early when the Italian pulled up nearly halfway through. The 39-year-old 2004 Olympic champion hadn't competed since a 12th-place finish at the Beijing Games.
Blanka Vlasic of Croatia, meanwhile, won the women's high jump in a competition-record height of 2.03m.