King Carl Lewis still holds the court

King Carl still holds the court

08:02 AM Dec 06, 2010
SINGAPORE – Carl Lewis (picture), one of the greatest Olympic champions, said yesterday there is no reason why Asians cannot challenge the established powers in the century sprint.

The 49-year-old American track and field legend, here in Singapore on behalf of his sponsors Nike, claimed the lack of world-class Asian sprinters had nothing to do with physique, but came down to culture.

Talking to 50 Singapore athletes, including the Republic’s 4x100m team, after a clinic at the Ministry of Education’s Co-Curricular Activities Branch at Evans Road yesterday, Lewis said: “It is not only Asians. Why are Europeans not fast? You mean to tell me there is no one in Europe or Asia that is fast? C’mon, someone’s got the genes. So it is either a matter of the training isn’t right or there is an inferiority complex. The attitudes have got to change.”

Lewis, who presented a cheque for US$30,000 on behalf of Nike to the Singapore Children’s Society, said it was once thought black Africans could not win in swimming. But with Africans gaining access to American schools, colleges and universities, it is changing.

“It is just a mindset. You’ve got to get your mind right and get your game tight,” said Lewis, in typical flamboyant style.

Lewis, who retired in 1997, became only the second man to win four track and field gold medals at a single Olympics after the immortal Jesse Owens, when he repeated his countryman’s feat at the 1936 Berlin Games in 1984 in Los Angeles.

He won 10 Olympic medals including nine gold, and 10 World Championships medals, of which eight were gold. Attributing his success to a rigid mental preparation programme he instituted well before entering a contest, he said: “Working to correct mistakes was an important part of my preparation,” he said.

“Mistakes and fouls are what cost us wins and when I got on the runway for my long jump, for example, I knew how many steps I was supposed to take before I made my jump. In the relays, my team-mates and I practised until we got our moves right so that passing the baton becomes natural and you don’t drop it in a race.”

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