“The future of track and field is here in Kingston” says IAAF guest Donovan Bailey
20 July 2002 - Former 100m Olympic champion and World record holder Donovan Bailey, who ran his last race in Edmonton a year ago, is already thinking about getting back into the sport.
“Since last August, I have focused on building up my two businesses – in the fields of investment consultancy and real estate – and I now have more than 128 staff working for me. The most sport I have done is on the golf course, but I do miss athletics. I was excited to be invited to visit the IAAF World Junior Championships, and took the opportunity to meet President Diack and discuss some ideas on how to promote the sport in the future.”
Bailey, who like another Olympic 100m champion Linford Christie was born in Jamaica, has been impressed by the level of competition in Kingston, and paid particular attention to the men’s 100m final.
After watching the race from the VIP stand, Bailey made a point of personally congratulating Darrel Brown and Marc Burns, the gold and silver medallists.
“Congratulations guys, you have just done something awesome.”
Winner of the World Youth Championships in Debrecen last year, Brown powered to the finish line of the men’s 100m final to clock a new Championships record of 10.09. There had been pre-race speculations about a possible World Junior record but, because of the slight headwind or the pressure of the occasion, that didn’t materialise.
“Darrel is still young, explained Bailey. He has time in hands. He’s only 18 and can still break the World Junior record next year. But what he has to understand is that a sprinter’s career can be very long if one learns how to take one step at a time. I had been around for ages before I made my breakthrough at the 1995 World Championships. And a year later I was Olympic champion and world record holder.”
It was clear that Brown and Burns, who will both attend the University of Auburn, Alabama, were paying careful attention to Bailey’s precious advice.
“I think that they will be the future of track and field. At the moment we are witnessing a very powerful breakthrough of sprinters from Great Britain. Dwain Chambers is doing well and I’m sure he’ll keep on running fast. But there is also Mark Lewis-Francis and Christian Malcolm who both emerged from these championships. I admire the way Lewis-Francis is taking it a little step at a time – [he declined the chance to compete in the Sydney Olympics] and this has been paying off. I think Darrel and Marc have the potential to do great things in the future, they just need to avoid burning all their energy at such a young age.”
Bailey is ready to make a comeback in athletics – but has learnt from business that meticulous planning is the key to success.
“For the time being I enjoy being back here in Jamaica. It is good to have time to see my old friends before I head back to Toronto for the next round of business meetings.”