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Sunday, August 22, 1999 Published at 21:51 GMT 22:51 UK

Lewis takes heptathlon silver

Barber of Seville (centre): Lewis (left) knows she is beaten

Eunice Barber of France has won the heptathlon, consigning British hope Denise Lewis to silver at the World Championships in Seville.

Seville 99
The electrifying emergence of Barber ruined one of Britain's best hopes for a gold at the worlds in four years.

Olympic gold medallist Ghada Shouaa of Syria took bronze.

The BBC's Andy Swiss reports: "It was the normally trusty javelin that ended her title aspirations"
"I was beaten by a really exceptional performer," said Lewis.

"I feel's been a rollercoaster two days. I'm exhausted mentally."

The 26-year-old went into the final event, the 800m, trailing Barber by 120 points.

'This is a dream'

Baring a disaster, the French athlete only had to complete the final event within 10 seconds of Lewis to be assured of winning the gold.

She duly finished comfortably ahead of the Briton with the sixth best heptathlon points total of all time and a new French record.

[ image: Eunice Barber: French record]
Eunice Barber: French record
"This is a dream for me," she said afterwards. The Sierra Leone-born athlete only became a naturalised French citizen on 2 February this year.

Lewis was left with only a 73-point gap between herself and leader Barber coming into the penultimate event, the javelin.

But she failed to throw near the mid-50m mark, which would have given her a comfortable lead going into the final event.

By contrast, Barber landed a throw measuring out at 49.88m - near her personal best.

Jump row

Lewis could only manage 47.44m, more than 6m short of her own best.

It came as a disappointment for the European and Commonwealth champion, who had been expected to pick up more points in one of her strongest events.

[ image: Denise Lewis: Controversial long-jump decision]
Denise Lewis: Controversial long-jump decision
Earlier, Lewis had her hopes of even having a chance to win a gold medal all but wiped out, when officials decided to foul what appeared to be a legitimate leap in the long jump.

But after a long-running dispute with officials, a protest from the British camp eventually overturned the decision and gave Lewis a fighting chance coming into the last two disciplines.

The controversy centred around Lewis' final jump, measured at 6.64m.

French team managers claimed the Briton had fouled the jump by touching the plasticine at the end of the board - but the IAAF decided to overturn their protest.

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