Invest your time well, says Jackson to young athletes

Focus on build-up

Invest your time well, says Jackson to young athletes

"I started at the B of the Bang". The quote is a lingering memory for former world champion hurdler Colin Jackson, famous for his speedy bursts from the block. Years later, his energy finds expression in training the budding but he feels the current lot needs to invest their time well.

 Of Jamaican descent, Jackson did just about everything in the 110M hurdles except winning an Olympic title. He was a double world champion, four times European champion, twice Commonwealth champion and world record-holder for almost 13 years. He could never improve on his silver medal on his Olympic debut at Seoul in 1988.

Ever since his retirement in 2003, the legendary British athlete has dabbled in television, writing and even dancing in a reality show. A firm believer that sport should first be enjoyed, Jackson feels saddened to see it being run more like a business today.

“Athletics is quite standard. 100M is 100M, 400M is 400M, that doesn’t change for histories. It is the athletes and their preparations which can change. I feel it has become very professional and run more like a business than sport. I look at it and feel athletes need to enjoy what they do. Sometimes professionalism in this kind of environment can really come in way of development,” Jackson, who was in New Delhi for a promotional event, told Deccan Herald on Wednesday. “But having said that, professionalism also allows athletes to spend more time, train harder and get better. Some of the world records are quite outstanding now.”

Jackson, 47, recalled how races in his time would involve a great deal of preparation. “There seems to be a fast track to success nowadays and athletes don’t invest in their time well. I work with a lot of athletes and I explain to them you need to give yourself just four years of build up. You wouldn’t expect a doctor or lawyer to start practicing after two years. Why expect to do the same in athletics? A lot of people come very quickly and then go off very quickly because they have not got the foundation.”

The doping menace also frustrates Jackson, who advocates erasing the past record of dope offenders. “Unfortunately it is prevalent and will remain at the top level. Sometimes it frustrates me because I feel then the people will doubt what all I have achieved as well. You can imagine how annoying it can get, just thinking that I worked so hard, I performed and someone else takes drugs and puts shadow on my performance. And it has got nothing to do with me! 

“But the good part is that our federation (IAAF) is working very hard. No matter how great you are, you will be banned if you are caught doping, I think that is so, so crucial. I also feel the records should be erased of the people who are caught doping.”

Jackson’s second World Championship title in Seville in 1999 remains closest to his heart. It was a tough year for he had lost his close friend and training partner, Scotsman Ross Baillie, to an allergic reaction. “It was my most memorable race and is very important to me. It was a difficult year and I bounced back.”

Asked who he believes to be the greatest athlete, Jackson said: "It is very tough to answer. There are people like Carl Lewis who are so diverse, won gold medal in long jump and sprints. Edwin Moses dominated for a long time. Then you have the likes of Usain Bolt who is such an iconic figure. But Bolt needs a couple of more years and gold medals to be at par with them.”

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