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Page last updated at 11:29 GMT, Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Mark Lewis-Francis eyes an injury-free 2011 season

Mark Lewis-Francis

Lewis-Francis takes European 100m silver behind Christophe Lemaitre

By Peter Scrivener

Mark Lewis-Francis is focusing on staying injury-free throughout a busy 2011 as he continues his preparations for the London 2012 Olympics.

The Walsall sprinter, who won European and Commonwealth silvers in 2010, has the indoor European Championships and outdoor World Championships coming up.

And he told BBC Sport: "My main focus is staying injury free because the fast times happen when you're in shape.

"This year is all about building blocks for next year."

He added: "If I can have a good 2011, it more or less guarantees a good start to 2012, which is just around the corner now.

"It's exciting, but I'm dreading it at the same time. Every athlete is getting a tingling at the bottom of their stomach and it's about turning that into something positive."

The highlight of the 2011 season will be the World Championships in South Korea in August.

Mark Lewis Francis
I'm injury free, starting the season on a high and I'm looking forward to representing Great Britain at the first international meet of the season

Mark Lewis-Francis

But Lewis-Francis, 28, is also looking forward to the Diamond League - the prestigious global series that will stop off in London and Birmingham this year.

Birmingham hosts the ninth meeting of the 14-event competition on Sunday, 10 July, with London hosting the 12th leg on 5-6 August and Lewis-Francis believes the two meetings will provide a good barometer of what to expect at the London 2012 Olympics

"The Diamond League is very important," stated Lewis-Francis. "It's a big boost to have a meeting in Birmingham - I don't think I've ever run a Grand Prix in my home city and it's always good to have a competition in front of your home crowd.

"It will give the athletes and fans a taster of what to expect in 2012 as all the top athletes will be competing.

"But everything is a stepping stone to the World Championships. It's going to be hard to get in the team, but I'm keeping my drive and ambition and I want to get a spot in the final [of the 100m]."

BBC Sport's Peter Scrivener

To do that, Lewis-Francis may well have to officially break the 10-second barrier for the first time in a career that promised much as a teenager, but has only recently started to deliver.

His European silver medal, won in Barcelona, was his first individual senior medal outdoors; it came 10 years after he won the world junior title and nine years after he ran 9.97 seconds at the 2001 World Championships in Edmonton, although a faulty wind-gauge rendered the time unofficial.

Last year's season-best 10.15 seconds came in qualifying for the Commonwealth Games final in Delhi in October, signalling a return to the times he was posting before the Achilles tendon injury that wrecked his 2008 season, saw his lottery funding cut and made him question his future in the sport.

However, Lewis-Francis's passion for sprinting was rekindled when he teamed up with Britain's former 100m Olympic champion Linford Christie, although he remained tight-lipped over his hopes for breaking the elusive 10-second mark, simply saying: "Only Linford knows."

Not that Lewis-Francis, who also won 4x100m relay gold in India, is looking too far ahead.

29 January - International match, Glasgow
19 February - Grand Prix, Birmingham
4-6 March - European Championships, Paris

He is firmly focussed on the start of his 2011 season, which begins with the indoor Aviva International in Glasgow on 29 January, where Great Britain will face the United States, Sweden, Germany and a Commonwealth team.

Lewis-Francis will then compete in the UK indoor trials in Sheffield on 12-13 February as he looks to secure a place in the team for the European indoor championships in Paris in March, where Dwain Chambers will be looking to defend the 60m title he won two years ago in Turin.

Between the trials and the Euros, he will race on 19 February at the National Indoor Arena in his home city of Birmingham where he will face the man who beat him in Delhi, Jamaica's Lerone Clarke.

"I'm in a really good place," he continued. "I'm injury free, starting the season on a high and I'm looking forward to representing Great Britain at the first international meet of the season - getting the vest this early in the season means a lot.

"It's going to be a case of going out seeing what speed I've got left after a good winter in Delhi but I've started winter training well.

"I'm not starting the year with any specific aims, but my immediate focus is the European indoors. It would be good to compete against Europe's finest and see if I've still got that competitive edge."

see also
Meadows excited to begin season
04 Jan 11 |  Athletics
Birmingham to host Diamond event
24 Nov 10 |  Athletics
Lewis-Francis takes 100m silver
07 Oct 10 |  Commonwealth Games
Lemaitre edges out GB duo in 100m
28 Jul 10 |  Athletics
Gay wraps up Diamond League title
27 Aug 10 |  Athletics
Athletics on the BBC
21 Apr 11 |  Athletics

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