Usain Bolt targets long jump in bid for legend status•
Mike Powell says Jamaican has physique to make big impact
Anna Kessel in Berlin guardian.co.uk, Sunday 23 August 2009 21.55 BST Article history
After his record-breaking efforts in the sprints, Usain Bolt is now contemplating a future in the long jump, the 23-year-old said. The Jamaican has frequently expressed his desire to become a legend in the sport like Jesse Owens and Carl Lewis, who both excelled in the sprints and the long jump. “I tell my coach I’d love to try the long jump before I retire. Definitely,” said the triple world record holder. “Hopefully I can do this before I retire because I think I’d be very good.”
Mike Powell, the American long jumper whose world record of 8.95m has stood since the 1991 World Championships, believes Bolt could be the first to crack nine metres.
“With his height [6ft 5in] he is the type who would scare me … he is tall and fast.” Powell believes the Jamaican could revitalise the event. “We are dealing with a freak-of-nature athlete. He is off the charts. He is destroying other athletes, making them look like kids.”
The debate over whether Bolt will compete in the 400m rages on. The Jamaican said he would run the one-lap distance as a season’s opener next year, but reiterated that he was not keen on the event. Could he be persuaded in time for 2012? “I don’t know. I don’t want to do it but if my coach decides I’m dominant over the 100 and 200 and let’s try something new, I’ll definitely try to put my heart into it also.”
Bolt was presented with a piece of the Berlin Wall to take back to Jamaica, an acknowledgement of his triple gold medal-winning performances over the last 10 days. “Everybody knows my name. I’m as big as Bob Marley because my name is really everywhere like Bob Marley’s was when he was alive. I have one of the rarest talents you’ll ever find over 10 years,” said Bolt who now competes in Zurich on Friday and Brussels next week. “There won’t be any more world records for the rest of the season – I’m just trying to win.”
Britain surpassed their target of five medals, set by the head coach, Charles van Commenee, with two more silver medals today making a total of six – their biggest haul since Seville in 1999. Van Commenee said the results were “encouraging”.
Lisa Dobriskey won silver – after having her bronze medal upgraded – in a controversial 1500m race in which the initial winner, Natalia Rodríguez, was disqualified. Rodríguez was judged to have pushed the world indoor champion, Gelete Burka, as they neared the final bend, sending the Ethiopian flying. Dobriskey managed to avoid the pile-up, sprinting down the home straight perfectly positioned for a medal – although had she been just 0.02sec faster she would have taken gold in front of the defending world champion, Maryam Yusuf Jamal. The Spanish team put in a protest at the disqualification but when the replays were shown on the big screens it was clear who the crowd supported – shrill whistles derided Rodríguez, who left the stadium in tears.
Dobriskey was thrilled with her run, happy to bury the memories of missing out on a medal in Beijing last year. “I just could not finish fourth today because I’ve driven my family absolutely up the wall with that DVD [of the final] and the tears and the tantrums. I needed to win a medal.” The 25 year-old refused to torture herself about missing out on the gold medal: “I couldn’t have done any more.”
After a year of injury, which almost stopped her from being selected for the British team, Dobriskey’s medal provided the fairytale ending. “Two weeks into June I still wasn’t running, it was game over pretty much and I really thought it wasn’t going to happen.”
Dobriskey cited Van Commenee’s influence as key to the team’s success. “He gave us quite a good talking-to. He actually said athletics is becoming a yesterday sport. After the Olympics we’ve been overtaken by swimming – we needed to go and perform. It really hit home and it made a few people sit up and think we have the opportunity to do something about it. The whole philosophy behind everything has really given the team fresh motivation and a fresh look on things.”
Britain’s men’s 4x400m team took silver in a thrilling race – Conrad Williams, Michael Bingham, Rob Tobin and Martyn Rooney holding off Australia to claim second place behind a world-class United States team. “We just beat the Aussies in the Ashes so we had to go out and do it on the track as well,” said a delighted Tobin. The women’s 4x400m team – including Christine Ohuruogu and Nicola Sanders – finished fourth.