Bernard Keeps Gold - 0.07sec Twixt Medals
Aug 13, 2010 - Craig Lord
European Championships, Budapest, finals, day 5
Men 100m freestyle
Defending champion Alain Bernard (FRA), coached by Denis Auguin at Antibes, had done it again. The man who could not help Gaul take relay gold panned one for himself - just. In the tightest 100m free final ever 0- the podium split by 0.07sec - the Olympic champion claimed the crown in 48.49, 0.03sec ahead of Evgeny Lagunov (RUS), on 48.52, with William Meynard granting France a second medal, in 48.56. The world champion of 2005 and 2007, Filippo Magnini (ITA) is clawing his way back into the realms of contender: after several drubbings in 2008-09, he finished 4th in 48.67.The final was tighter than any shiny final managed to make it, with all eight men home within a 0.56sec range. Hoogie's 47.84 looking supreme...
Bernard won it on the way out, turning first in 22.99, Lagunov on 23.09, Meynard, training partner of Budapest sensation Camille Lacourt at Romain Barnier's Marseilles programme, back in 7th on 23.68, his potential to cause upset in future lost on no-one, least of all Bernard, who punched the air in delight but had an eye for those now very close by.
"I was very strained during the heats and the semis," said the champ, a second slower than he was 2 years ago but still on top. But before the final he was "surprisingly not" as tense. "To win the race you also need a certain luck. I'm very happy that William got the bronze."
Lagunov said: "I hoped for gold but I'm happy with silver. Alain Bernard was simply better." Meynard knew he had a medal in him and noted that the competition had been "very tough". No doubt he noticed how close he came to turning the order of things on their head. On the rocky road to London 2012, there will be many a thrill and spill in the French sprint ranks, what with Yannick Agnel among those waiting in the wings.
Effect on race on all-time top 10: 0
From the archive: Alexander Popov chased six crowns and won five and with each passing effort he got faster: (1991-93-95-97-99-2000): 49.18; 49.15; 49.10; 49.09; 48.82; 48.61. The one that got away was 1999, when Pieter Van Den Hoogenband (NED) stepped up and gave warning of the Sydney storm to come. In 48.47, the flying Dutchman, aka he Eindhoven Express, inflicted a rare defeat on Popov. The Russian hit back in 2000, when the Europeans fell in Olympic year for the first time in history courtesy of a switch in the calendar triggered by FINA's decision to hold its world championships every two years in uneven years. Victory gave Popov the crown as most-titled 100m European all-time. Down the years, France matched Popov, Alex Jany (twice), Alain Gottvalles, Michel Rousseau and Stephan Caron all champions. In 2008, Alain Bernard gave Gaul the edge, with 6 crowns since 1926.
Shiny suit era
February 1 2008