Christophe Lemaitre of France successfully defended his 100-metre title at the European Championships on Thursday in Helsinki and gained invaluable experience from a chaotic final.
In a race in which only five of the eight finalists crossed the line, Lemaitre dealt best with the cold, dampness and two false starts, all conditions he might face in London next month.
As a result, his time of 10.09 seconds into a headwind was better than it looked. He ran down compatriot Jimmy Vicaut to win by .03 seconds, and Norway's Jaysuma Saidy Ndure took bronze.
"It was a very difficult race after two false starts and it was tough to concentrate," Lemaitre said.
The false starts eliminated only Simone Collio of Italy, then Ronalds Arajs of Latvia fell with an apparent injury near the end and Rytis Sakalauskas of Lithuania failed to get properly out of the blocks.
Lemaitre remained cool in the 15-degree (59 F) weather while others crumbled.
"I got nervous after two false starts," said Vicaut.
Two years ago, Lemaitre won a sprint triple at the championships, but decided against running the 200 here so as not to exert himself ahead of next month's Olympics.
Lemaitre will go for a second gold during the weekend sprint relays.
Lalova wins women's 100
Ivet Lalova of Bulgaria won the women's 100, the first gold in her quest for a sprint double.
Lalova passed Olesya Povh of Ukraine and Lina Grincikaite of Lithuania at the line. Because of the cold and dampness at Helsinki's Olympic Stadium, Lalova's time was a disappointing 11.28 seconds, well off the European record of 10.73.
"The race was tough. The weather is not good for sprinting," Lalova said.
She's also favoured for the 200, which has the first heats on Friday.
After two days of competition, France topped the gold medal table with two after Eloyse Lesueur added to Lemaitre's tally by winning the long jump ahead of Volha Sudarava of Belarus.
Russia is on top in the overall medal standings with four, and in the women's 5,000 it got its first gold when Olga Golovkina swept from third to first in the finishing straight to beat Ukraine's Lyudmyla Kovalenko and Portugal's Sara Moreira.
Many events had their top stars missing.
Spain's Ruth Beitia won her first major title at 33 by edging Norway's Tonje Angelsen in the high jump. Both scaled 1.97 metres, but the Spaniard won on a countback. Europe's top jumpers, including world champion Ana Chicherova and Olympic champion Tia Hellebaut did not compete.
And at the home of javelin throwing, Czech Vitezslav Vesely spoiled the party by taking gold ahead of Russian Valeriy Iordan. Ari Mannio saved face for the traditional javelin power by taking bronze.