Paris | 9th July 2012
Christophe Lemaitre, final tuning before London
It was a short night for Christophe Lemaitre. The Savoyard left the Stade de France late after his 3rd place in the 100m with a time of 10’’08 on Friday 6 July at the Meeting Areva. Twelve hours later, he responded in great depth to the barrage of questions from the press at the ASICS showroom in Paris. It was a press conference during which the French sprinter didn’t evade a single question, describing his sensations at the time, his Olympic hopes, overseas competition and even, surprisingly, the contents of his suitcase for the Games. It is worth explaining that this was the last chance for him to voice his opinions on French soil before he sets off for his first Olympic Games. Interview.
How have you slept after your 3rd place behind Tyson Gay and Justin Gatlin at the Stade de France?
Christophe Lemaitre: "Little but well. I didn’t go over the race in my mind, I was too tired for that. I’m someone who needs a lot of sleep; around ten hours a night. And I can sleep just about anywhere. I’ve even fallen asleep laid out on the turf of the racetrack in Aix-les-Bains".
Rights free photo for press
using with the copyright
At MEETING AREVA 2012
© KMSP / P.Millereau
With these few hours of hindsight, what do you think about your race at the Meeting Areva? And notably the start?
"My reaction time was really very poor. 190/1000, which isn’t anything special. Usually I get away in 140 or 150/1000. After that the rest of the race was pretty successful. The starting phase is good, though maybe I lift up a bit too early, doubtless due to the pressure of my adversaries. After that I manage to run as I usually do, namely coming back on my rivals at the end of the race."
And what do you think about your time of 10’’08?
"At the start, the race comprised a lot of guys who had already run sub-10 second times this season over 100m. At the finish, solely Tyson Gay went below this barrier and I finished 3rd. I think you have to look at my time of 10’’08 in perspective. Yesterday evening your placing at the finish was more important than the time. I haven’t done a sub-10’’ yet this season, but it doesn’t worry me. The times will come down. If ultimately I don’t manage to run under that limit it’s not serious. The objective this year is to bring home a medal from the Games, not to focus on the time."
What are you expecting from your next race, the 200m at the London Meeting on Saturday?
"I’m expecting a good place and to bring my time down. I can do better than the 20’’31 I’ve run this year. If conditions are good, I’d really like to run a sub-20 second time. The weather may prove quite difficult in London though."
On a technical level, what points are you going to focus on in the 200m at the London Meeting?
"On the bend. I’m going to try not to lose time on the curve, and focus on coming out of the bend well, without letting myself get carried off course. After that, I’ll just have to make the best of my abilities on the home straight, as I usually do. I manage to stay pretty well relaxed. In fact, it’s one of my main assets, something which enables me to maintain my speed and come back on the others."
How will you organise your training over the next few days?
"Until the London Meeting, I’m going to work on the 200m, with the emphasis on the bend. I’m also going to work on the length of my stride. All too often I’m still lengthening it at the end of the race, but I need to correct this flaw. My coach Pierre Carraz and I are working on this aspect by using blocks positioned on the track 2.50m or 2.60m apart. I link together a series of runs with the aim of respecting these intervals over my final strides of the race."
What is your current training pattern?
"One session a day, most often at the end of the day, with a second training session just once or twice a week. In terms of muscle-development exercises, I’m working on light loads with dynamic effort, which is geared at improving explosive strength."
After the London Meeting, will your training evolve?
"After this final race, it’ll be necessary to polish up the preparation. I’m really going to have to step things up! However, I repeat that I’m not concerned about the fact that I haven’t run as fast as last year yet. I’ve still managed to run a sub-10’’10 time regularly."
When will you head off to the London Games?
"As late as possible, so as I can get in the maximum amount of training in Aix-les-Bains. I’ll doubtless arrive in London one or two days before the start of the athletics events so as to familiarise myself with the setting and get my bearings in the athletes’ village."
Your times don’t reflect it yet, but do you feel that you’ve progressed this year?
"I haven’t run as fast, but I feel as if I’m the same level as last year. I think I proved that at the Rome Meeting, where I ran 10’’04 after a very poor start, then in Helsinki in the cold, after two false starts, and again at the Meeting Areva, where I ran 10’’08 with zero wind. My legs certainly have a sub-10 second time in them."
Are you lacking a certain ‘something’ to switch up to the next gear?
"Yes, there’s no doubt about that. What it is I don’t know. I’m working as hard and do as much training; I have the same desire and the same willingness. The recovery may be the issue."
Have you chosen which distance you’ll run in the London Games?
"The 100m at the Meeting Areva was my most recent so I have all that data to hand. It’s my favourite distance; it’s the star event. At the same time though, my aim this year is still to win a medal at the Games. As such, I’ll choose the event where I have the most chance of achieving that objective. To be honest, I couldn’t give a damn if it’s the star distance."
Could you double up and do both the 100 and 200m at the London Games?
"I’ll be able to make that decision at the last minute, but I don’t think so."
You’ll be experiencing your first Games in London. Just discovering the Olympic event isn’t without its danger, the first being that you remain too much of an onlooker. Are you aware of this?
"Yes. I don’t really know what awaits me, having never participated in the Games before. However, the experience at the Daegu Worlds, last year, was interesting as we were all housed in an athletes’ village. Added to that, I had the opportunity to visit the Olympic facilities at the start of the year, with the former Minister of Sport (David Douillet). I won’t be stepping into the unknown."
Can you recall past Games, when you were younger?
"Not really, no. When I was younger the only thing I was interested in was football. The first Games I followed from start to finish were those in Beijing in 2008. I remember Bolt and above all Phelps, who was the most striking to me. However, I’ve caught up with that by watching the images of Michael Johnson and Marie-José Pérec on the Internet."
Are the Games an inspiration to you?
"Of course. They represent the outcome of four years’ work. It’s the ultimate competition. Everyone dreams of bringing home a title or a medal. The title will be difficult to secure, but I want a medal."
Could it come from the 4x100m relay?
"Of course, we have every chance of that. You mustn’t take into account our performance at the European Championships as the handovers were very flawed. We’re a solid group. If the passing is smooth, the relay has a chance of making the podium. We’re all very keen to pull it off."
What will you put in your suitcase for the London Games?
"My laptop and my games console for sure. We’re going to have some free time in the village and I can’t bear spending the whole day in my room not doing anything. As such, to occupy my time, I intend to watch some films on my laptop and play on the console with friends."
Antoinette Nana Djimou, Christophe Lemaitre, Leslie Djhone are all 3 members of Team ASICS.