Lemaitre is first white man to run 100m in under 10 seconds
Young French sprinter Christophe Lemaitre became the first white man to run the 100 metres in under 10 seconds with a hugely impressive 9.98 to win the French National Championships in Valence.
The 20-year-old, who has been exciting European athletics fans ever since his European Junior record of 10.04 set a year ago in Novi Sad, also broke the French national record on his way to victory in the stifling heat of South East France.
The native of Annecy was very measured when speaking of his performance saying: “What I wanted was the first place. The time was more of a long a term goal.”
However, he did admit: “It’s good to have done it before the European Championships.”
The Frenchman, who is also competing in the 200m on Saturday, will be looking to gain some measure of revenge over Dwain Chambers after the Brit narrowly beat him in the European Team Championships in Bergen last month.
The pair will square up in Barcelona in just over two weeks at the European Championships, though Lemaitre’s coach, Pierre Carraz, stated that: “In Barcelona, the favourite will be Chambers, he has the experience as an advantage.”
Lemaitre takes over from Polish sprinter Marian Woronin as the fastest white man in history. The Pole, who held the European record for four years during the 1980s, just missed out on achieving the sprinting holy grail with a personal best of 10 seconds exactly.
The Frenchman is only the second man not of West African origin, after Patrick Johnson, to break ten seconds. He is also the second youngest man ever to achieve the feat, younger than both Usain Bolt and Tyson Gay when they first went below ten seconds.
Comparisons have already been drawn with the Jamaican superstar, due to Lemaitre sharing Bolt’s unusually tall build in an event which has traditionally been dominated by stockier athletes.
Any talk of him challenging the triumvirate of Bolt, Gay and Asafa Powell, is of course premature, but the ambitious youngster has not set himself a particular target as he aims to take his personal best down as low as possible.