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Last Updated: Wednesday, 11 February, 2004, 18:13 GMT
Lewis-Francis targets glory
By Tom Fordyce

Mark Lewis-Francis
Much is promised from Lewis-Francis this season
Mark Lewis-Francis has vowed to get serious in his bid for Olympic 100 metres gold.

Lewis-Francis won world junior 100m gold four years ago but has struggled to turn his enormous potential into major international honours.

He insists, though, that he is now ready to cut out the fun and take the global title his talent deserves.

"It is about being more disciplined," he admitted. "My aim is to go out there and become Olympic champion."

Lewis-Francis has spent the winter training in South Africa with his Great Britain team-mate Christian Malcolm, which has been a positive experience.

"It is about not turning up late for training, not messing about and being more dedicated to what we are doing," said Lewis-Francis.

"Christian was a great athlete in 1998 when he won both world junior titles, while my year was 2000.

"But we both know we still have the talent - it's just a question of putting the hard work into play."

I'm not yet at my peak and I know I can achieve an Olympic medal
Mark Lewis-Francis

Lewis Francis, still just 21, was spurred into action after failing to make the World Championships 100m final in Paris last August.

In his absence, the blue riband event was won by Kim Collins in 10.07 seconds - a time Lewis-Francis knows he could have beaten.

"Watching the World Championships last year and seeing Darrel Brown come away with silver aged 18 gave me a wake-up call.

"I should have been in that final and I could have brought home a medal," he admitted.

But the winter's work with Malcolm has left Lewis-Francis bursting with confidence that he can fill the void which currently exists in men's sprinting.

Christian Malcolm
Christian Malcolm has spent the winter training with Lewis-Francis

"I've never trained with an international before and it has been a learning experience," he said.

"It was the sort of hard work I've never seen before and it has given me confidence as much as anything else.

"Christian is stronger than me over 200m so doing quality work over that distance has benefited me in the shorter races that I do. It has really helped my speed endurance and my stamina.

"I'm a lot fitter than I was a couple of years ago and I'm not suffering from any injuries.

"I've been more disciplined. I'm not saying I wasn't disciplined a few years ago, but I am more focused on what I am doing now.

"Back in 2000, many people said I might not be around in 2004, I'm here to prove those people wrong.

"Although I am 21 now, I'm not yet at my peak and I know I can achieve an Olympic medal."

Lewis-Francis makes his first major appearance of the season at the Norwich Union Grand Prix in his home town of Birmingham on Friday 20 February, with live coverage on the BBC.

Tickets for the Norwich Union Grand Prix are still available on 0870 402 8000.

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