Usain Bolt’s coach, Glen Mills, has scoffed at Dwain Chambers’ plan to beat the triple world record holder and Olympic gold medalist at the world championships this summer. Chambers has been talking up “Project Bolt” since winning gold at the European Indoor Championships last month, and setting a record-breaking 6.42sec for 60m along the way. But Mills laughed at the idea. “Project Bolt?” he said, “they should call it ‘Project Ambition’”.
Chambers spent a season training with Mills and his athletes at Kingston’s National Stadium in 2006, and the experience was a positive one. In his first race back after returning from a two-year ban for using performance-enhancing drugs, Chambers ran 100m in 10.07 at Gateshead in June 2006.
Chambers believes that having beaten Bolt several times when they trained together he can also beat him in a competitive race.
But Mills says that what took place in training three years ago is erroneous. “He beat Usain at the sledging, yes, because at the time Usain wasn’t as strong as he is now. I don’t think he [Chambers] can beat him now.”
Mills’ coaching partner of 13 years, Patrick Dawson, who was close to Chambers, agreed. "You can’t use training to really judge. Over the years in coaching I’ve seen people finish in front of others on the track, but not in the race.
“But Usain is a human being and anything is possible. We’re not going to say Usain is not beatable because that’s not true. In any sports you can have a bad day.”
Mills said that Chambers was reluctant to train with Bolt when he first joined the group. “I think that when Dwain started training here we had to do a lot for his physical condition. He hadn’t competed for two years so we probably almost started from zero. During that process it was a painful one, and these guys [Bolt and others] were in far better shape than him. He struggled in the earlies [sic] to stay with him so I don’t blame him for not wanting to train with them. Eventually he found his footing. He improved a lot.”
Both coaches can see the techniques they taught Chambers being employed in the sprinter’s recent performances and feel he owes much to his stay in Jamaica. “We did a lot of technique with him,” said Dawson, “what to do during the drive phase and then after, we spent a lot of time doing technical work. That may have contributed to how well he’s on doing on the track now.”
Whether he can beat Bolt or not, Dawson believes Chambers should bring home a medal from the world championships in Berlin. "He will be one of the major players at the world champs this summer. He’s going to be one of the people to watch in the 100m because it’s pretty impressive what he’s doing on the track now. He is a very competitive person, very serious, he’s focused, knows what he wants, and given the opportunity he should be there [among the medals]. I see no reason why not.
“He’s running pretty good times and if he’s able to maintain that speed he gets from the first 60m going into the last 40m he’s going to be one to look out for. Based on his strength that he had when he was with us, if he still has that kind of strength and speed endurance then yeah, I would say he can manage that.”
Mills claims that he is owed money by UK Athletics for coaching Chambers during that 2006 season. Mills’ agent, Cubie Seegobin, alleges he secured a “gentleman’s agreement” worth US$12,000 with UKA to take on the sprinter.
“I was promised I would be paid,” claimed Mills, “but I haven’t received a cent. They do owe me … I brought him back in the sport, his first race back was a remarkable 10.07. Everyone was astounded that day.”
But a UKA spokesman denied that the deal took place. “Dwain was not on the world-class performance program in 2006. UKA does not put money towards the coaching of athletes who aren’t on the world class performance program. It would never have been a possibility.”
Both Mills and Dawson are fond of Chambers and believe that he has been dealt a tough hand in his treatment since returning from his ban. “Myself and coach Mills speak often about it,” said Dawson, who first spotted Chambers as a youngster, "and we both agree that he’s still being punished for what he did in the past. He has done his time, I don’t see no reason why he should still be pressured.
“In my opinion I think they are basically trying to use him as an example. There are other English athletes who were found guilty of the same offense and they’re back competing so I don’t know what is with it with Dwain, but I’m hoping that they will let him do what he really loves and compete because he’s someone who really, really, loves track and field.”
It says sledging(typo?), does this mean chambers beat bolt in pulling a sled back in 06 when bolt had some bad back?