French Indoor Championships

Arron’s 7.08 improves on national 60m record – First day of French Indoor Championships

Saturday 21 February 2004

Aubière, France – World 4x100m champion Christine Arron and hurdler Ladji Doucoure showed they will be France’s best contenders for a medal in Budapest when they respectively recorded times of 7.08 in the women’s 60m and 7.54 in the men’s 60m Hurdles in the French championships, that are being held in Aubière from February 20 to 22.

After clocking 7.16 and 7.12 in the heats and semi-final, Christine Arron not only took back the national record to Muriel Hurtis by one hundredth of a second (7.09 in February 2003) but also set the second best time in the world behind Tabakova’s 7.06. She also clocked 6.12 in the 50m en route.

“I was feeling very well today,” commented Arron after the race. "I’ve been tired in the last few days because I had a very hard weight training session ten days ago. We’ll follow the same preparation plan towards the World Indoor Championships with another big weight session next week, so that I may not be in the same kind of shape in Lievin next Saturday, but the World Indoor Championships come above all.

Arron confident in her medal chances in Budapest

“I’m stronger this year. I’ve gained both in strength and speed. My coach Guy Ontanon has made the sessions harder. Last season, I had to get my muscles back, after my pregnancy. Even if I made a lot of progress throughout the year, I still found myself a bit short of time. That’s why I remained quite satisfied with my results in the World outdoor championships last year. Considering my pregnancy, it was a good performance,” she added.

“In Aubière today, I managed to run three very good races, both smoothly and technically. I’ve improved the first strides out of the block, which helps me to get a better posture in the race".

“For the moment, I just competed on the national level, so I now have to run against the best in the world. In Budapest, I’ll do my best and if I can sneak on the podium, I’ll be happy. I don’t know how fast I can go now, but the world record still appears a long way to go".

Guy Ontanon confirmed that it is good of his athlete to enter the World Indoor Championships with such credentials but warned that the times achieved by other athletes around the world until now might not be good indicators of how fast athletes will run in Budapest.

“It will also depend on the quality of the track. Who knows the title might only be won in 7.10. But if Christine opens the championships with 7.12 then she’ll be able to go faster," said Ontanon.

After a performance that she herself qualified as “disappointing”, 7.22 for second place, Muriel Hurtis admitted that she couldn’t explain “what is lacking at the moment”.

“I did the same weight session as Christine, but it didn’t bore its fruit for me,” she declared before announcing “I"ll give myself one more chance in Lievin, but if I don’t manage to lower my times, I’ll seriously reconsider my participation in Budapest. I won’t be going to Hungary to get out in semi-final.”

Doucoure twice under 7.60

In the men’s 60m Hurdles Ladji Doucouré set a streak of 7.59, 7.54 and 7.63. After a poor clearance during warm-up caused a pain to his right hamstring, he reconsidered his goals for the final.

“It is sure that if I could manage to combine the start I had in the heat with the race of the semi, I could achieve an excellent time, but in the end I just focused on the victory”.

Doucoure then added that his 15 days training camp in Gainesville had been really beneficial allowing him to have early high-level competition and with a memorable conclusion at the Millrose Games where he was second only to Allen Johnson for his first time in New-York.

Among other performances to be noted was the easy victory for Poland’s Sylvia Korzeniowska in the 3000m walk with a time of 12:53.45.

The pole vault was won by still relatively unknown Jerôme Clavier who cleared 5.65m, confirming his performance of Eaubonne (5.65m) on February 7th, while Jean Galfione failed in his attempt to get back in the French team. Romain Mesnil couldn’t clear a bar at all, missing all his three attempts at 5.50m.

In the men’s triple jump, NCAA champion Julien Kapek and Sébastien Pincemail managed to keep their head cold to achieve the qualifying standards for Budapest on their very last attempt with 16.96m and 16.82m.

Other qualifiers were Kenyan born Margaret Maury who won the 3000m in 8:53.99 ahead of Morocco’s Zahra Ouaziz (8:55.16).

Stéphane Cali, who clocked 6.68 in the 60m heats and shot putter Laurence Manfredi who shot the put at 18.20m in the qualifying rounds will still have another opportunity to improve their performance on Sunday.

In the combined events, Belgium’s Tia Hellebaut set a national record of 4589 points, securing her place for Budapest, while Birmingham’s bronze medallist Marie Collonvillé had to content with 4447 points. Laurent Hernu scored 5893 in the men’s heptathlon

On the first day of the competition, Cameroon’s Joseph Batangdon – a silver medallist in Birmingham last year – and Leslie Djhone won their respective 200m heats in 20.78 and 20.93, letting to expect for better things to come on Sunday.

Carole Fuchs for the IAAF

World 200m best for Batangdon at Day 2 of French Indoor Championships

Sunday 22 February 2004

Aubière, France – The most outstanding performances of the final day of the French championships were achieved in two highly disputed events. In the men’s 200m, Birmingham silver medallist Joseph Batangdon of Cameroon in lane five had already caught, Leslie Djhone at the end of the first bend and thus could control the race ahead of the 4x400m silver medallist in Paris, setting a season’s World best of 20.57 as Djhone improved his season best to 20.77.

Nicole Ramalalanirina also confirmed her return to top level in the 60m Hurdles with a time of 7.94 ahead of Linda Ferga who clocked 7.97, securing her selection for Budapest. In the Pole Vault Vanessa Boslak carries on her progression with a new national record of 4.50m.

While Joseph Batangdon didn’t really know what to expect before this week-end, he now feels reassured about his abilities to get on the podium in Budapest next fortnight.

“It helped me to have Leslie Djhone in my sight. I decided to try and catch him early because he is a 400m runner and if I had let him go, it would have been hard to close the gap in the end. I didn’t think about the time during the race, only about my place. I was leading and could allow no one to get back in front,” declared the Cameroonian about his race.

"I came to the French championships with doubts as I couldn’t prepare myself like I would have wanted this winter. I’ve first had some physical problems and then fell ill, a bad flu that disturbed me for five weeks. On my first outing in Ghent, I didn’t have good feelings at all. So I decided to keep heavy training sessions between competitions. I now consider I’m only about 90% of my capacities.

“Nothing really changed for me since my silver medal last year in Birmingham. It just went through like smoke, even in my own country. At the beginning of 2003, I had been awarded a grant from the Olympic Solidarity, which helped me to train in better facilities like INSEP, the French Sports Institute, but that’s all. Sometimes, you just wonder what you are doing all that for.

“Last summer, I did part of my preparation in Georgia at the Dekalb Olympic Center. But I trained too much there. At the time of the World Championships I hadn’t assimilated the workload and performed very poorly. But I’m still convinced that I can do far better outdoors. I even actually prefer running outdoors than indoors.

“I’ll definitely go back to the US though, but it’d be better if I could stay for longer periods. Last year I was also tired because of the many trips back to Europe to compete for my club, but in the end my club is an essential contributor to my earnings, so it’s difficult to solve.

“Before the World Indoor Championships, I’ll run in Budapest next Tuesday and in Liévin on Saturday, but I won’t put myself into too much pressure for these events. I’ll just take them as training sessions where I can adjust technical parameters before Budapest.

“I’m feeling sad about the 200m being dropped from international indoor championships after 2004," Batangdon concluded.

About his second place, Leslie Djhone commented: “My race was just average. I got caught unaware by Joseph’s start. We’ll now see what time I run in Lievin but if I don’t run below 20.70, it won’t be worth going to the World Championships.”

Ramalalanirina and Ferga qualify for Budapest sprint hurdles

The final of the women’s 60m Hurdles was certainly the most disputed race in the prospect of Budapest with three athletes as potential candidates for the second spot in the team after Nicole Ramalalanirina had secured the first one with her 7.98 achieved in Karlsruhe last Sunday and her 7.94 in semi-final which ranks her as the World’s third performer this season tied with Julianne Sprenger and Perdita Felicien.

While Patricia Girard had decided to end her winter season, before the French championships, two other athletes, Linda Ferga Khodadin (8.08) and Reina Flor Okori (8.10) had already reached the qualifying standards this season while Fanny Gérance was just two hundredths short.

Experience finally prevailed as Linda Ferga dipped under 8 seconds (7.97) for the first time this season for second place while Gérance was third in 8.14 and Okori fourth in 8.16.

Renewing her time of 7.94 in the final, Nicole Ramalalanirina declared: "I ran twice below 8 seconds today, which is in itself a satisfaction. It’s a good start for the World Championships, though I don’t think it’ll be enough to get a medal in Budapest.

“For the moment, I’ll first aim at qualifying for the final. I’ve been through many health problems in the last few years, and it proved very hard to get back to my level, because you just find yourself having to cope alone. People rapidly forget about you when you don’t perform. Fortunately I’m now again in good health and so is confidence coming back. Now I have ambition".

Other noticeable results were recorded in the men’s 800m where under the impulsion of Florent Lacasse, the first three reached the standards for Budapest. Lacasse clocked 1:47.10 ahead of Morocco’s Mouhssin Chehibi (1:47.65) and Nicolas Aissat (1:47.69). The men’s 60m was won by Lueyi Dovy ahead of Ronald Pognon, both clocking the same time of 6.68 as Stephane Cali, who had run 6.68 on Saturday had to settle for 4th in 6.72.

In the men’s high jump Joan Charmant took the victory with 2.28m, while Laurence Manfredi won the women’s shot put with a throw measured 18.05m.

Carole Fuchs for the IAAF