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Saturday, 23 June, 2001, 17:59 GMT 18:59 UK
Butler's best of British
Steve Cram
BBC Sport's Steve Cram gives his view of the first day's European Cup action in Bremen.

I thought Kathy Butler's performance in winning the 3,000metres was fantastic and it's the sort of thing I would like to see our middle-distance men coming up with.

The European Cup is such a hard event, particularly for distance runners.

If you're a sprinter, you know whether you're coming in on form or not, but for middle-distance runners there's no real yardstick to judge by as the times that people put up at this time of year is no guide.

So as far as I'm concerned, anyone who comes out on top shows that they have huge ability and the potential to do well in major championships.

It was Kathy's first real big occasion for Great Britain and we saw something similar with Helen Patterson last year.

What really impressed me was the way Kathy won it.

She took the decision to break loose when she did and she timed it perfectly.

The others just couldn't cope with her burst and she had the strength to keep going.

Kathy Butler impressed in winning the 3,000m
Kathy Butler impressed in winning the 3,000m

It was just what the girls needed, a pick-up after a disappointing start with Natasha Devers falling the 400m hurdles and limping home last when she might have been expecting to win some good points.

Mark Lewis-Francis also turned in a brilliant performance and although he's only 18, there was still a lot of pressure on him.

Regardless of the age of their competitor, Great Britain are always expected to win the men's 100m and that's a lot of pressure to put on the shoulders of a young man - especially when he's up against an Olympic champion.

Kostantinos Kerentis may be the Olympic 200m champion but he is still a top class sprinter.

I think it only goes to reiterate that he has the right temperament for the big occasion, and that's often more important than having the physical attributes.

You can always work on the physical side but an athlete will either rise to the occasion or not, and Mark sems to me to be somebody who will.

Mark Francis-Lewis has the right temperament
Mark Francis-Lewis has the right temperament

I think he will be disappointed at not winning the relay but he will have been tired, whereas the Italians who won were all fresh.

So where does that leave us?

I think the men are in a slightly better position than we thought at the end of the first day, but the second day is going to be tough.

If we get a couple of surprises and some bonus points like Chris Tomlinson did today in the long jump then we will be in there at the end.

The Germans had a poor first day and they will be better tomorrow. but they've got a lot of catching up to do.

It's looking like France and Poland could be the dark horses, they're both looking strong.

But not for the first time in a major championship, it could all come down to the final event, the 4x400metres relay, an event in which we've got a great tradition.

Unfortunately, this time round, injuries mean we don't have our strongest team to put out, but I'm sure those who are picked will do what's needed.

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15 Jun 01 |  Athletics
Devonish claims European Cup spot
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