Schippers and Soumare through to 100 semifinals

August 12, 2014
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Netherlands' Dafne Schippers competes in a women's 100m first round heat during the European Athletics Championships in Zurich, Switzerland, Tuesday, Aug. 12, 2014. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)

ZURICH (AP) — Dafne Schippers successfully started her European Championships week on Tuesday by cruising into the semifinals of the 100 meters, the first of three titles the Dutchwoman is chasing.

Despite a bad start and a leisurely finish, she crossed in 11.10 seconds, second only to Myriam Soumare of France's 11.03. Soumare is expected to be Schippers' toughest opponent for Wednesday's title.

"I had to put on the turbo for a little while and relax afterward," said Schippers, who is looking for a sprint triple in the 100, 200 and team relay.

Defending champion Ivet Lalova was third-fastest in 11.17.

In the men's 100, Christophe Lemaitre of France is trying to rekindle the form which earned him a sprint triple at the 2010 Euros. The defending 100 champion was second-fastest with 10.16 seconds, trailing countryman Jimmy Vicaut by .10 seconds. Three Britons, led by Dwain Chambers filled the rest of the top five qualifiers.

Lemaitre skipped the 200 two years ago to focus on the Olympics. Now, the Euros are the only thing on his mind. "I want to achieve the triple again," he said.

Defending champion David Storl of Germany won the first title of the competition, taking the shot put with a heave of 21.41 meters, with Spain's Borja Vivas taking silver behind the double reigning world champion with 20.86. Olympic champion Tomasz Majewski took bronze with 20.83.

Later Tuesday, the women's 10,000 was also at stake in the six-day competition.

On Wednesday, all eyes will be on Olympic champion Mo Farah in the 10,000-meter final, which should be the first part of another long-distance double for Britain's best runner.

Interest increased even more on Tuesday after Farah told the BBC an infected tooth and a subsequent stomach ailment forced him to be hospitalized for four days ahead of the Commonwealth Games, hampering his preparation for the Euros.

Farah said that after a training run for the games in Glasgow he collapsed on his bathroom floor in Park City, Utah, and had to be airlifted to a hospital. He was criticized for missing the Commonwealth Games, but insisted there was no point in competing when not at his best.

A long-distance double in Zurich will make for two grueling races in five days, but it will not compare to Schippers' supercharged week.

She already is the joint top European performer with Soumare in the 100 and has the top continental time in the 200. Schippers has eight races scheduled — heats and finals — for her three events, so slowing down early in her heat was not a surprise.

"Getting through was the most important," Schippers said. "The time is really great for the series now. Those last 30 meters really felt relaxed."

Schippers is a heptathlete who added the individual sprint events after an excellent training camp in Florida where a sudden rush of speed made her realize she could medal there, too, and add to her bronze heptathlon medal from last year's world championships.

Although Schippers said Soumare wasted energy by running hard through the finish, the French sprinter insisted on having the top time.

"I ran my heart out because you need confidence," Soumare said. "You have to hit hard and put pressure on your rivals."


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