Lawrence Clarke relishes hurdles duel with Pacal Martinot-Lagarde

Lawrence Clarke
European Athletics Team Championships
Venue: Cheboksary, Russia Dates: 20-21 June
Coverage: Live on BBC Two, online and BBC Sport app from 13:00-17:30 BST on Saturday and 12:30-14:05 BST on Sunday.

Hurdler Lawrence Clarke says he is relishing his rivalry with Frenchman Pascal Martinot-Lagarde ahead of European Team Championships in Russia.

Britain's Clarke will take on Martinot-Lagarde, among others, in the 110m hurdles in Cheboksary on Sunday.

Clarke, 25, has enjoyed many duels with Martinot-Lagarde over the years and hopes he can beat this season's fastest man in the world in Russia.

"I'm determined to run against him," Clarke told BBC Radio Gloucestershire.

"I beat him in the European Junior Championships back in 2009 and ever since it has been a rivalry because we are all the same age. I want to get into that environment of the Olympics next year knowing I can beat them.

"Hopefully I can push him close this season, he has opened up the indoor season very quickly but we have different styles and hopefully I'll peak towards the later part of the season and he will stay where he is."

Clarke missed out at a medal at the European Indoor Championships with Martinot-Largarde taking gold.

However, Clarke twice ran a lifetime's best over the 60m hurdles this year, and hopes he can close the gap further on the Frenchman ahead of the Rio Olympics next year.

"In 2010 he won the World Junior Championships and in 2011 I beat him at the European Under-23 Championships," said Clarke.

"Then he tore his hamstring in 2012 at the French trials and fell over. He really bloomed in 2013 post-Olympic Games and has gone from strength to strength running one of the fastest times in the year last year and subsequently running the quickest time this year which is 13.06 seconds. That is quicker than the Olympic bronze medal in London."

Clarke, based in Bath, has endured a frustrating time since finishing a surprise fourth in the 110m hurdles at London 2012.

A broken wrist and pulled hamstrings ruined 2013, and he had to withdraw from last year's European Championships final after tweaking his hamstring in the warm-up.

However he says his fitness in "the best it's ever been" and hopes at Rio he will "be in my prime".

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