Chambers presence inspires Lewis-Francis
Sprint star Mark Lewis-Francis says the presence of Dwain Chambers means he has to raise his game to reach the British Olympic team.
Lewis-Francis and Chambers came through their respective heats at the UK trials on Friday. On Saturday they will enter the semi-finals and final .
Speaking to Eurosport ahead of the weekend, Lewis-Francis said Chambers poses a massive challenge.
“I’ve no problem with Dwain Chambers,” he said. “He’s an amazing sprinter and been a main rival of mine for years.
“We all know about the ban but he has been allowed back and into the Olympics, if he qualifies: I welcome him back and will have to raise my game. He is the man to beat.”
Lewis-Francis is one of many British sprint stars to have struggled to achieve the Games qualifying standard ahead of the trials – including Chambers.
But the ‘Darlaston Dart’, who is coached by Barcelona gold medallist Linford Christie, says that reaching the final of the 100 in London in August is a realistic goal – and that he can achieve even more.
“My goal is to make the Olympic final. Anything can happen then: look at Usain Bolt false-starting in the World Championship final last year,” he continued.
“Reaching the final would be a big achievement in itself. The 100m is on fire at the moment, with a lot of guys running fast times.
“I’m ranked No.1 in the UK. But I’m trying to keep my feet on the ground: there’s a lot of talent around, I’ve just got to keep my legs turning!”
“I’ve got a good coach and mentor in Linford, someone who has Europeanm, world, Olympic and Commonwealth medals – he’s been there and done it, worn the crowns.
“I’d love to say the same.”
However it has been difficult for Lewis-Francis to realise his dreams after the withdrawal of his Olympic funding.
“I lost my funding when I got injured. It’s hard to hold down a full-time job while trying to be a world-class athlete: I’ve had to fund myself through local sponsorship,” he said.
“My manager Ricky Simms and my club the Birchfield Harriers have helped me through.”
Lewis-Francis joined sports scientist Professor Greg Whyte on The Mall in London recently to investigate the parallels between the acceleration of a world class sprinter and a high-perfroamnce car.
Racing against a BMW, he had mixed results.
“I raced the BMW 320 diesel over five, 10, 20 and 30m. It’s all about acceleration,” he said.
“You see how acceleration affects the contest – it’s a useful training aid!”
London 2012 Performance team member and 100m sprinter Mark Lewis-Francis tested his acceleration on the Mall against a BMW 320d EfficientDynamics from the London 2012 fleet