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    A star is born in Barcelona


    When a 20-year-old Christophe Lemaitre arrived at the European Athletics Championships in Barcelona 2010, history was not on his side. No Frenchman had won this 100m since Claude Piquemal in 1962 or the 200m since Roger Bambuck in 1966 but that was all about to change.

    Lemaitre had already had quite a summer, smashing 10 seconds for the 100m for the first time with his 9.98m at the French Nationals in Valence to break the French record (9.99).

    In a way it was no surprise, because his progression from a teenager had showed signs that he was going to become something special.

    In Bydgoszcz 2008, Lemaitre had won gold in the 200m (20.83) at the IAAF World Junior Championships and then a year later, he triumphed in the 100m (10.04) at the European Athletics Junior Championships in Novi Sad.

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    Now was his moment among the seniors, and what a championships it proved to be for him.

    First came the 100m, with the final on 28 July, and from lane six, he didn’t make the best of starts. By halfway he was trailing as Great Britain's Mark Lewis-Francis (from lane two) looked to have it sealed.

    But then, with a blistering finish, Lemaitre took over, storming through to take the title in 10.11.

    It was a brilliant victory, showing such tenacity in the final third of a race that seemed lost.

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    Two days later, Lemaitre settled into his blocks for the final of the 200m.

    This time he was in lane five, with Britain's Christian Malcolm a major threat immediately on his outside and what a race it became.

    At the bend, Lemaitre was back in sixth as Norway's Jaysuma Saidy Ndure and Malcolm battled it out and it seemed the Frenchman might miss out on a medal, let alone gold.

    That was even more the case with 40m left, then with 30m left, before he launched another spectacular surge.

    Malcolm had the line in his sights but Lemaitre found something else, and just pipped him to win by 0.01 in 20.37. A stunning run, a stunning race - and he was not finished yet.

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    On 1 August, he was back on top of the podium having completed a golden hat-trick as the second leg runner in the 4x100m relay. In a quartet of Jimmy Vicaut, Pierre-Alexis Pessonneaux and Martial Mbandjock, Lemaitre helped lift France in 38.11 and he left Spain as one of the most talked about athletes in the world.

    The seeds had been sown for him to become the most medalled man in the history of the European Athletics Championships.

    Two years later in Helsinki, he retained his 100m title and won a relay bronze and then in Zurich 2014, he won silver in both the 100m and 200m and bronze in the relay again.

    Eight medals and counting, with Amsterdam just over a month away.

    European Athletics Championships, Barcelona 2010


    1. Christophe Lemaitre (FRA) 10.11

    2. Mark Lewis-Francis (GBR) 10.18

    3. Martial Mbandjock (FRA) 10.18


    1. Christophe Lemaitre (FRA) 20.37

    2. Christian Malcolm (GBR) 20.38

    3. Martial Mbandjock (FRA) 20.42

    4x100m relay

    1. France 38.11

    2. Italy 38.17

    3. Germany 38.44

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