Coe: New champions will emerge to replace Bolt
International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) president Sebastian Coe believes track and field will suffer a mighty blow when its poster boy, Usain Bolt, hangs up his spikes. Just like what occurred in boxing with Muhammad Ali, however, he thinks a new champion will emerge.
"Usain will leave a big gap in our sport when he does decide to call it a day," Coe told The Gleaner. "To us, Usain Bolt is as big as Muhammad Ali was to boxing. There were plenty of very, very good world-class fighters at the same time Muhammed Ali was boxing, but the focus inevitably tended to be on him.
"But people also said, what is going to happen after Muhammed Ali retired? Well, Floyd Mayweather happened, Manny Pacquiao happened, Sugar Ray Leonard happened, Marvin Hagler happened, Felix Trinidad happened, so great fighters came on the scene."
Coe said the focus is usually fixed on Bolt, but his federation has the task of highlighting the other top-class athletes around.
"The challenge that we have as an international federation and all our individual member federations is to make sure that we are able to showcase the extraordinary God-given talents of many of the other athletes in so many other events.
"We will always remember Usain (Bolt), but the challenge has to be to make sure that we have marketing and promotional programmes around all the other great athletes."
He attended the Carifta Games in Grenada early this year and Coe said he was not concerned as to where the next Usain Bolt would emerge from.
"I am encouraged in what I see in countries like Jamaica and the Caribbean, in general. There is a much greater width now of events. It is not actually just sprinting," Coe said. "You are seeing some real progress in the technical events, progress in the field events, and I am now actually beginning to see young 800m and 1500m athletes - men and women - that will be challenging at the international level before very long, and that's a good thing.
"It was coach (Glen) Mills that actually pointed this out to me when I was in Kingston - that Usain (Bolt) actually now only holds one Jamaican school record. All his records have been broken, so that tells me that there is also a lot of talent coming through behind Usain (Bolt)."