Diack: Usain Bolt has the class to become an icon like Jesse Owens
Aug 9, 2009, 20:27 GMT
Berlin - Usain Bolt has the class to rewrite athletics history in a hyped 100 metres world championship showdown with Tyson Gay and can reach the status of the legendary Jesse Owens, according to world athletics supremo Lamine Diack.
In an exclusive interview with the German Press Agency dpa, Diack said that the 100m world record may well fall in next Sunday's blue riband final in the Olympic Stadium where Owens famously won four golds at the 1936 Olympics.
Diack, 76, said he expects great competition in general at the August 15-23 championships for which 2,101 athletes from 202 countries have entered to compete for 47 gold medals.
But the Senegalese Diack also vowed that the IAAF will be relentless in its fight against doping - even though he drew a sharp line between Jamaican sprint doping suspects and Bolt.
Bolt, who won the 100m, 200m and 4x100m gold in world record time at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, is expected to be the superstar, with the 100m final against the three-time defending world champion Gay of the US one of the highlight event.
'There are a number of events that will certainly be exceptional ... If you come to the stadium, you are almost certain to see the legend of Beijing, Usain Bolt ... His duel with Tyson Gay is certain to rewrite the history books of our sport.'
Gay leads the 100m world list with 9.77 seconds and 19.58 over 200m, with Bolt on 9.79 and 19.59 for the year. They two have not raced against each other this year but reportedly ran into each other at Munich doctor Hans-Wilhelm Mueller-Wohlfahrt a few days ago.
Diack is convinced that Bolt is cool enough to withstand the pressure and that his world record of 9.69 seconds is under threat in what promises a 'very special' race.
'I am very confident that Usain is ready to do something fantastic in Berlin and that he will also be pushed hard by Tyson Gay and Asafa Powell and the other top sprinters,' said Diack.
'If the weather is good and we fill the stadium, then I would love to see a new world record in the 100m!
'I have had the chance to meet Usain on a number of occasions and the most striking thing about him is that he loves his sport. He is so relaxed when he competes.'
Owens, who won 100m, 200m, 4x100m and long jump gold at the politically charged 1936 Games, will be honoured at various events, with Diack naming Bolt as a possible successor.
'Jesse Owens is surely the most iconic legend of our sport ... He was, without a doubt, not just an amazing athlete but an outstanding human being. So I would love someone like Usain Bolt for example, to try and match Jesse Owens not only on the track, but by setting an example outside the stadium as well.'
Diack defended Bolt in the recent doping probe involving a training partner of his as well.
'You cannot say that because one Jamaican as broken the rules, then Usain must be involved as well. Usain was tested at the same time - as was Asafa Powell and others - and they have not recorded any adverse findings,' the IAAF president said.
Looking at the Berlin championships, Diack said that 1,130 doping tests are planned and that samples will be frozen and stored for possible retests.
Diack said the 12th edition of the championships is crucial for the sport in general and marketing terms.
'What is clear is that the world championships in Berlin will offer a key indicator about the health of athletics and this is why it is so important to us. The next two weeks will be crucial for our future,' Diack said.
A good showing from the German team including high jump favourite Ariane Friedrich could help towards success of the biggest sports in the country since the 2006 football World Cup.
'Germany has a team which can win medals and this is what will help fill the stadium,' said Diack.