Sky’s the limit

With Bolt gone, young Amer­i­cans have a chance

Global Times - Weekend - - SPORTS - AFP

Usain Bolt might have hung up his spikes, but there are at least two young Amer­i­can sprint­ers set to take up the man­tle of the mighty multi-medal­win­ning Ja­maican.

Chris­tian Cole­man, 22, and Michael Nor­man, who turned 21 on Mon­day, have risen to the top of the highly com­pet­i­tive world of US sprint­ing on the back of a cou­ple of im­pres­sive sea­sons.

Cole­man this year set a world record of 6.34 sec­onds over 60 me­ters in­doors and won the world in­door ti­tle in March.

But in­jury struck the Ten­nessee-based ath­lete, who took world out­door 100 me­ters sil­ver in Lon­don in 2017 be­hind Justin Gatlin but ahead of Bolt.

“Last sea­son was re­ally spe­cial for me be­cause I’ve never had an in­jury like that,” he said of a nag­ging ham­string prob­lem. “To still push through that and work, run the times I did and come out on top and win the Di­a­mond League, it was a spe­cial sea­son and I was happy I was able to com­plete in that way.”

In­deed, Cole­man came back and ran a blis­ter­ing 9.79 sec­onds in his sea­son-end­ing out­ing in Brus­sels, mak­ing him the joint sev­enth-fastest man in his­tory.

“I think 2019 will be even bet­ter,” he said, al­though he said he would over­look the in­door sea­son with an eye on the Doha world out­door cham­pi­onships which has been pushed back to Oc­to­ber be­cause of the op­pres­sive sum­mer heat in the Gulf state.

“The sky’s the limit. In per­fect con­di­tions, with a cham­pi­onship mind-set and ready to peak, any­thing is pos­si­ble. I don’t even try to put a num­ber on it and limit my­self, I go out there to com­pete and to win,” Cole­man said.

It has been a sim­i­larly im­pres­sive sea­son for Nor­man, whose 43.61 sec­onds in Eu­gene was the sixth-fastest 400 me­ters in his­tory, com­ing shortly af­ter he had bro­ken the world in­door 400 me­ters record with 44.52.

“Look­ing at Doha, I’ll def­i­nitely be tar­get­ing 400 me­ters,” said the Univer­sity of South­ern Cal­i­for­nia stu­dent who ran a 200-meter best of 19.84 sec­onds in the Paris Di­a­mond League meet in June.

Toe the line

Both Cole­man and Nor­man, speak­ing ahead of Tues­day’s IAAF Ath­let­ics Awards in which the for­mer was a nom­i­nee, said it was an honor to be men­tioned in talk about po­ten­tial suc­ces­sors to 100 and 200 me­ters world record holder Bolt, the eight­time Olympic gold medal­ist and 11-time world cham­pion.

“I was able to toe the line with him and had the op­por­tu­nity to race against him and that meant a lot to me,” said Cole­man.

“Grow­ing up and run­ning track and field you look up to some­body like him, he’s been an idol of mine, it’s sad to see him walk away from the sport but there’s an op­por­tu­nity for guys com­ing in to push the sport for­ward.”

Nor­man added, “Be­ing com­pared to Usain Bolt is good in it­self, but I want to reach a point where both of us are not be­ing com­pared to a le­gend like Usain Bolt, but be­ing known as the Chris­tian Cole­man or the Michael Nor­man.

“What Usain Bolt did to the sport was amaz­ing. He re­ally set a legacy and el­e­vated the sport of track and field and set a new stan­dard. But now he’s re­tired, I think it’s time the young ones like Chris­tian Cole­man and my­self take up that po­si­tion and con­tinue to push the sport in the di­rec­tion it’s be­ing go­ing for the last eight years.”

Cole­man ac­knowl­edged that Bolt’s ab­sence from the track had “changed the story line and dy­namic.”

“Be­fore, when Bolt was in the race, it was about who’s go­ing to get sec­ond. You just come and want to watch Bolt run, it’s al­ways ex­cit­ing be­cause you know he al­ways puts on a show,” he said.

US team­mate Noah Lyles, him­self just 21, is also in the mix af­ter hav­ing run a star­tling 19.65 sec­onds over 200 me­ters in Monaco this sum­mer.

“But now we don’t re­ally know who’s go­ing to win, we don’t know who’s go­ing to get the gold medal,” Cole­man said.

“The ex­cite­ment is still there and I think it will push the sport for­ward know­ing there are so many young guys com­ing through.”

Amer­i­can sprinter Chris­tian Cole­man races to vic­tory in the men’s 100-meter fi­nal dur­ing the 2018 IAAF Birm­ing­ham Di­a­mond League ath­let­ics meet­ing in Birm­ing­ham, Eng­land on Au­gust 18.

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