WRITTEN FOR THE EXXONMOBIL BISLETT GAMES/IAAF OSLO DIAMOND LEAGUE MEDIA TEAM
Nine-time Olympic gold medallist, Carl Lewis met the world’s current crop of elite 100m sprinting at this evening’s official press conference at Oslo’s strawberry party in the City Hall, ahead of tomorrow’s ExxonMobil Bislett Games and IAAF Diamond League.
At the official curtain-raiser to the annual event, the gathering was staged in the same venue which holds the prestigious Nobel Peace Prize ceremony each December and the Norwegian capital welcomed the American sprints legend together with Jimmy Vicaut, Jaysuma Saidy Ndure, Adam Gemili and Richard Kilty.
Speaking to the assembled media, 52-year-old Lewis recalled his time spent competing at the Bislett stadium in the 1980’s and 1990’s:
“I remember when I first came back in 1980 – the event was so small, we had to stay with local people,” he said.
“I had great experiences here but the best was on my birthday in 1989.”
The four-time Olympic long jump champion, two-time Olympic 200m and 4x100m champion and 1984 Olympic 100m champion retired from the sport 17 years ago and keeps busy by running his own business and with coaching and United Nations duties.
The three-time world 100m and two-time world long jump champion can boast bests of 9.86m and 8.87m, respectively, and Lewis spoke openly about his career in Oslo:
“The best day of my career was the day I retired because I’d exceeded my expectations and had no regrets,” he revealed.
“I’d competed all around the world and did it all – I look back with fond memories.”
“Believe it or not, my Olympic and world medals are all in a safety deposit box in storage and I only looked at them once a year as I never thought medals would win me a race.”
Lewis also offered some advice to the present-day athletes, saying:
“The biggest thing is to set an ultimate goal – if you can understand that then every day is working towards it.”
Meanwhile, Jimmy Vicaut spoke of his intentions to improve the 9.92 French record.
The 22-year-old European indoor 60m champion and European 100m silver medallist equalled his 9.95 personal best last month and ran a windy 9.89 for third place in Eugene at the end of May.
“It’s the best beginning to my season and I hope to go quicker tomorrow,” Vicaut explained.
“My goal is to qualify for both events at the European Championships (in Zurich in August) and I hope to stay injury-free and beat record.”
Another athlete with a 9.95 clocking to his name in the field tomorrow night is Norway’s Jaysuma Saidy Ndure.
The 30-year-old European bronze medallist registered the national record mark last weekend and placed fourth in the Doha leg of the IAAF Diamond League at the beginning of May.
The 2011 world fourth placer said:
“I feel I’m in good shape so it’s going to be a good race.
“I still have time to improve – I’ve been focusing on my start this year and working hard so my goal is to run sub-10.
“I’ve been working hard on my 200m so I’ll compete in both events in the European’s.”
Great Britain’s Adam Gemili appears on the verge of his first sub-10 second clocking, following a 10.07 season’s best in Rome whilst finishing third in the IAAF Diamond League event last week.
The 20-year-old world 200m fifth placer has a best of 10.05 stretching back to the 2012 season when he took the world junior 100m title and said:
“It’s a long season ahead so I’m taking my time and getting quicker.
“I’m prioritising the 100m at the moment and then I’ll move on to some 200m’s.
“British sprinting has been given a boost and I hope I can go sub-10 soon.”
The 2013 European under23 100m champion continued:
“I hope to do both the Commonwealth Games (in Glasgow next month) and the European Championships but I’m still deciding on what to do where.”
His compatriot, Richard Kilty should also feature highly tomorrow evening.
The 24-year-old world indoor 60m champion has a best of 10.10 from last summer and is confident of a strong display despite his 10.26 performance in Rome:
“Usually it takes me a couple of races to get into the swing of things so I hope I’ll be ready by the time of the British championships (at the end of June),” Kilty explained.
“The 200m was my favourite event last year but I missed so much speed-endurance work because of the long indoor season so I’m focusing on the 100m this year.”