Eugene (Oregon): Confidence radiates from Dwain Chambers like never before.
There is serious talk of supplanting Maurice Greene as world champion and, before the season’s end, of erasing Tim Montgomery’s 100m world record.
“I want to capitalise on what I did last year,” said Britain’s European champion from his San Francisco base as he prepared for Saturday’s Prefontaine Classic Grand Prix meeting in Eugene.
After years of anticipation with little gold to show for it, Chambers rose to be No. 2 ranked sprinter in the world in 2002, outrunning Greene five times in addition to winning the European title and equalling Linford Christie’s European 100m record of 9.87 seconds.
The “taste of success,” as Chambers calls it, has the world junior record-holder yearning for more, especially at August’s world championships in Paris.
“It’s Tim the hunted, Maurice who wants the record back and I am the one who wants to go out and set a new trend,” Chambers said in an early analysis of the 100m final. “It’s three top guys who want to win one world championship.”
That Chambers considers himself one of those “three top guys” represents a major breakthrough for the 25-year-old Londoner. Yet, 2002 was not all glory. Chambers’ elation about the early victories over Greene was offset by defeat in the Commonwealth Games, where he pulled up in the final with cramp.
He entered the European championships worried his career might be doomed.
He did not have to worry, clocking 9.96 seconds for the title. The victory was a bigger confidence booster than his 9.87 in Montgomery’s world-record run of 9.78 seconds, Chambers said this week. “There is a difference in running 9.87 when you cross the line first and when you have assistance,” he said. “I was just chasing Tim.”
He had hoped to race Montgomery again this weekend but the world record-holder has pulled out of the meeting, citing injury.
“It will allow me to concentrate more on what I need to work on,” said Chambers, whose main challenger on Saturday is likely to be Commonwealth Games winner Kim Collins of St Kitts.
Chambers has spent the past six weeks in the US training with his coach, Ukrainian Remi Korchemny, and preparing for the European season.
“It’s good for me to get the rust out of my legs while I am here as opposed to when I go home,” Chambers said.
“Rather than trying to correct things at home, I would rather do them here. I will take my good wins and my bad wins here.”
So far, races in Modesto and Portland have produced only losses. He finished third in 10.19 seconds over 100 metres at Modesto and was last in a 200 at Portland on a chilly, damp day.
“I don’t think I was in the right mind-set for it,” he said of the longer race.
“I am convinced the human body can go 9.65. And this is the body that can do it,” Chambers said in February.
“My purpose in making the statement was that I wanted to show that I can do it,” he said this week. “I want to take the world record somewhere that it hasn’t been. It’s been pretty stagnant for a long time.
“I don’t think it is a time that is impossible. I’m willing to go out and prove the impossible. I want to be different. That’s my intention in life. I don’t want to be like everybody else.”