Christie call to spread light of sport

Christie call to spread light of sport

Vital to get kids involved, says former Oly champ

It was twenty years ago that Linford Christie notched up his most famous win on the athletics track. Victories, defeats and controversies have dotted his career before and after that triumph but the gold medal he won at the Barcelona Olympic Games still shimmers and that was exactly the reason for the rousing reception he got here on Thursday.

Christie was 32 when he won the Olympic 100M gold, making him the oldest champion in the blue riband event. At 52, he still looked fit and good for a race or two as he was driven to the Sree Kanteerava Stadium in a BMW motorcade. Brand ambassador for the TCS World 10K, Christie said it was vital for the youngsters to be involved in sport to be better human beings.

“It is important that children play some kind of sport. Discipline that you learn from sport helps you in everyday life and that shapes you as a person. So my message is, encourage your kids to take up sport. Sport is fun, sport is healthy and sport makes you a better human being,” said the Jamaican-born former world champion.

Not surprisingly, the Briton tipped a Jamaican to take home the coveted 100M gold this time in London. “I don’t know what (former world champion) Tyson Gay is doing at the moment.

“But I feel, (Asafa) Powell, Usain Bolt and Nesta Carter will have a good chance. They have to come through the trials though and they have a cut-throat competition there,” he said. “It could be a Jamaica vs US affair and you can even have a new star coming up,” he added.

Christie, who was disqualified for two false starts in the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games, said he was against the current rule that has no place for a false start. The rule had led to the sensational disqualification of Bolt at the World Championships in Daegu last year.

“I don’t think it is a good rule. It takes the impetus away from the athlete to put in an aggressive performance, making them sit back and wait. I would go back to the old rule, the current one isn’t the best rule you have got.”

 Jamaica has been an assembly line of great sprinters and Christie said the reason was the kids in that country had champion performers to look up to. “Kids want to be what they see. They see people going out and performing, and believe that they too can do it. Message for India is that there is huge potential here. It only needs to be identified and nurtured,” he said.

Surprisingly, the man who has won Olympic, World, European and Commonwealth titles placed his World Championships victory in 1993 above his Olympic success.

“It was tough to back up my Olympic triumph with another major title but I persisted and gained success.

“It was my toughest win and the most satisfying part of my career,” said Christie, who clocked his career best of 9.87 seconds while winning that gold in Stuttgart.

Now a coach, Christie said he enjoys seeing his wards performing well. “My motivation as a coach is simple -- someone helped me, so I decided the best way forward was to help others. I get so much pleasure when I see my athletes go out and do well. I just love it.”

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