What is Carl Lewis known for?
After saying goodbye to show business
Carl Lewis, 36 years old, won ten Olympic medals, including nine gold, and eight world titles. In 1984 in Los Angeles he accomplished the feat that only his American compatriot Jesse Owens had achieved in Berlin in 1936: he won Olympic gold four times. With the ninth Olympic victory in Atlanta in 1996, he was also the fourth time in a row long jump Olympic champion and finally rose to legend. Lewis set nine outdoor and four indoor world records. Between February 28, 1981 and August 31, 1991 he remained unbeaten in 65 long jump competitions in a row. In his career he jumped 71 times 8.53 m or more (best distance 8.87 m / 1991), ran the 200 m under 20.00 seconds nine times (best time 19.75 s / 1983) and sprinted the 100 m under 10 14 times , 00 (best time 9.86 s / 1991) - a one-time series by the 1.88 m tall athlete who lives in Houston (Texas) Photo: dpa
? Was it really your irrevocably last 100 m race in Berlin?
Of course I will not stop running, but from now on only for fun, with show runs like those already planned in the USA, Japan and Australia. But no more real races. I'm going to be giving a farewell performance on September 13th at my home track in Houston with friends Burrell, Heard, and Marsh from the Santa Monica Track Club, but that's primarily a break during a college football game.
? Berlin, as you have emphasized again and again, should come to the end in a very special way. Why?
The memory of the unforgettable, legendary Jesse Owens is linked to Berlin and the Olympic Stadium. He was celebrated here as a four-time Olympic champion. And I always wanted to be like him, so successful, so popular. So it was a great honor for me to run for the last time where Owens had triumphed. An uplifting feeling that moved me more than I suspected. I even got goosebumps.
? Have you ever had a personal encounter with Owens?
In 1971, when I was ten, I took part in a school competition to which Owens was invited. I later learned that my father, who was a university professor and my first trainer, had arranged the meeting with him. This encounter shaped me. Owens advised us boys to work hard on ourselves and never give up. I guess I kept to that pretty well.
? How good were you as a ten year old?
I only remember that when I was 13 I jumped 5.51m and when I was 15 I jumped 6.93m
? What do the superlatives "Carl the Great" or "King Carl" mean to you?
At first I thought it was grossly exaggerated, but later I got used to it. Anyway, it didn't bother me.
And now these superlatives have become a trademark for me in show business.
? Initially shy, Carl Lewis actually knew how to portray himself in public - and not just with super athletic performances
To be an athlete, a good one at that, is much more than just running fast around the track or jumping far. It's also about - that's no secret - to present yourself in an interesting way in public. People just love it when you do different, exciting things.
? Lewis the entertainer, the writer, the singer?
Why not? But above all I want to be myself. I also tried my hand at being a singer and not bad, I think. In 1992 an autobiography "Inside Track" was published by me, further books will follow. I don't want a literary award, I want to write about heroes of sport, about things that are important, so I want to share my experiences with sport with people.
? What is the name of one of your experiences? It sounds simple and worn: hard
work and exercise and never give up without a valid reason. There's no point in apologizing once you've lost. It is precisely then that it is important to train even harder, more systematically. Then you win again. And I would definitely like to point out to the young athletes: Be sure to finish school!
? What Comes After the Carl Lewis Era?
I'm still looking for the ideal line between PR jobs and a career in television. I want to expand my work for my sponsor Nike, I will present a new clothing collection and specially designed bicycles, and I will be even more involved in show business. I will write books and give lectures. I will be fine!
? The word athletics was never mentioned. Just forget?
No. Athletics remains an important relationship point for me, but no longer the most important. Because athletics is a dirty one
Sports. It is very important to me to promote the sport, especially the kids, to get them off the streets. I'd love to work with young people at the Santa Monica Track Club, but I'm not going to take them to athletics. I want to convince the youth of the need for physical training for a fulfilling life. And stand up for a clean sport.
? You recently made no friends with your doping allegations against American athletics. How serious were your allegations?
They arise from my feeling that American athletics is doped. Some have unbelievable mountains of muscles, everyone knows what's behind them. I raised a subject in public that others are apparently unwilling to talk about. Instead, they accuse me: Now that I stop, I am destroying our sport with accusations. I am against doping. Doping destroys the athlete, destroys the sport, alienates sponsors, without whom the sport cannot do, and shakes the audience. The spectators must be able to trust the athletes and not be cheated by manipulated performances.
? They also didn’t leave the IAAF officials happy. Why?
I think the IAAF's decision to reduce the ban for doping offenders from four to two years in the first instance is simply unbelievable. It is a step back instead of a step forward. That shows me how seriously the officials take the problem and that they are apparently ready to cover up for the manipulated athlete.
? You have been quoted with the assertion that there is more doping in the USA than in the GDR at that time. It's just that it was controlled, whereas the opposite is the case in the USA. ”Quoted correctly?
Basically, my aim is to ban doping and drugs from sport once and for all, in the US and elsewhere.
? Before the World Championships in Athens there was talk of the sporting decline of USA athletics. Do you also criticize the conditions so harshly?
Yes, but my criticism is aimed in a completely different direction. American athletics lacks proper organization and perfect marketing, which is why it plays a rather insignificant role in the American public. That is the problem and not the situation, which has now been lamented again, that the system of competitions and trials favors the "old guard". It is completely wrong to claim that the old stars prevent others from advancing.
? Who do you think is the greatest athlete of all time?
Apart from Jesse Owens, it's Evelyn Ashford for me, because of her excellent sprints and above all because of her passionate commitment to the women's movement in the USA.
? Which moment in your career will you remember?
Emotional August 4th, 1984, when I won my first Olympic gold medal in the 100 meter final in Los Angeles, and then twelve years later, last year on July 29th, when I got my ninth Olympic gold in the long jump in Atlanta. This medal cost me the greatest effort. At the time I believed that there would be no start for me in Atlanta. And when I failed to qualify over 100 meters in the trials and just qualified for the long jump, I was very unsure whether I would even get my ninth Olympic victory. And so the long jump was the greatest at the end of my career.
? Is that why you took a huge plastic bag full of sand from the long jump pit in Atlanta?
I packed a sack of sand so that this historic moment will always be remembered in this way. Incidentally, I have occasionally done this elsewhere as well.
? Will you come back to Europe someday?
There are preliminary talks that I will be invited to the ISTAF in Berlin again next year. I like coming here to the Olympic Stadium.
Conversation: Jürgen Holz
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