Adille Sumariwalla sits on the Athletics World Executive Council with champion athletes like Sebastian Coe, President, Athletics World, Sergey Bubka, Valerie Adams, Nawal El Moutawakel, Alberto Jauntorena, Renaud Lavillenie and many more. An 11-time national champion in the 100m and an Olympian, Sumariwalla said that ace sprinter Usain Bolt was a legend and synonymous with track and field sport. Sumariwalla will be a jury member for track and field sport in Tokyo. “Bolt’s deeds will be difficult to be matched," Sumariwalla said in the course of an interaction with News18.com.
It was all about Usain Bolt in the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, 2012 in London and 2016 in Rio de Janeiro. Bolt won the two short sprints — 100m and 200m dash - in style and brought in theatrics at the start and after breasting the tape first. How do look at Tokyo Olympics without the person who changed athletics forever and remained in the consciousness of the sporting world?
We will miss Bolt. Certainly. He was a legend. He took sprinting to new heights. But there are young sprinters coming up. Let’s see how they perform. Now there are new champions being created. Bolt will always remain a legend. What he has done for sprinting is phenomenal. And the level he took sprinting too, some of his performances will be difficult to match, because of the height and speed he had. He had one of the shortest ground contacts if one looks at his performances technically. He was very superior to the rest of the sprinters. His running action was superb.
Once he took the lead around 30 metres, he was unbeatable. He has admitted he had starting off the blocks issues?
Bolt was a tall man. It’s all about biomechanics, short lever versus long lever. The short lever can move faster. Bolt’s strength was his height. He was 1.95 metres tall ( almost 6.5 ft). He had the strides to make up for the deficiency he probably had, in the first 30 metres. He was formidable because of his speed. When he created the World Record (Berlin 2009 World Championship at 19.19 seconds) he was the first off the block. He was the first in reaction time.So in general he may have had a starting problem, but when he came first off the block, he smashed the World Record in 200 metres.
Bolt was never on the WADA radar for dope rule violations?
I don’t think any sprinter, or for that matter, any athlete should be caught for dope violations. It’s like saying: " Ye jhoot nahi bolta hai, iske liye ye accha aadmi hai,". Honesty is seen as a premium thing. It’s not a great thing to be free of dope violations. Athletes are supposed to be free from all these things.
An athlete like Marion Jones was caught in it?
Marion Jones belonged to another era. The sort of testing that’s being done now, including the out of competition testing, has become very strict. The whereabouts clause, these are all strictly applied añd practised. There are people who try to beat this by doing all sorts of things.
Do you think with Bolt not at Tokyo a non-Jamaican will win the sprint gold medals?
Anything is possible. What happened in the last World Championship in London. Usain was beaten by Justin Gatlin, is it not? I don’t think one has to take the view of a non-Jamaican getting an opportunity. For all you know, an American may have Jamaican blood! There are British athletes with Jamaican blood. Theresa Sanderson the British javelin gold medal winner in 1984 was a Jamaica-born athlete. I don’t think an athlete from a particular country winning is important, what’s important is what did the individual do to raise the profile of track and field to a different level. Did he or she become synonymous with athletics? This is what Usain Bolt did.
Usain Bolt won with huge crowds backing him in Beijing, London and Rio. Tokyo will be without full-throated spectators? Do you think the absence of a cheering and noisy crowd will hamper performances in Tokyo?
I don’t think performances will suffer with slower timings. Look at the performances in different meets leading to the Olympics. A lot of records have been broken. I think performances will match or would be better than any other Olympics. The athletes will perform to their potential. Actually, I am shocked to see records being broken in different events in the run-up to the Olympics. Look at the women’s middle and long-distance records and also the marathon records. They have got bettered. The shot putt record has been broken. This girl from Jamaica, Shelly-Ann Fraser has come close to break Florence Griffith Joyners record In 100 metres.
When will the AFI announce India’s final athletics squad for the Olympics?
The World Athletics will release the rankings on July 1 and the Indian squad will be known on July 2. Hima Das has a hamstring issue, but athletes do get injured. I am sure the Indian athletes will do well in Tokyo.