Kolkata: For athletics legend Michael Johnson, Jesse Owens remains his personal favorite, even with Usain Bolt being considered as the “greatest” sprinter in the world. “For me Jesse Owens is the greatest. No doubt, a lot of people feel that it is Usain Bolt and if there were five other people with me here, they might have differed. But, for me, it is Owens who is the greatest, personally speaking,” said the former world and Olympic record holder for the 200 and 400 metres, who is currently in Monaco to attend the Laureus Sports Awards.
The Laureus Sports Awards are held annually and honour excellent individuals from the world of sports along with their achievements in the previous calendar year. Bolt has previously won the Award for the Sportsman of the Year three times – in 2013, 2010 and 2009 – and is a strong contender for this year’s Award as well. But Johnson, a member of the Laureus World Sports Academy, admitted that Bolt had ‘redefined athletics’.
“Undoubtedly, Bolt has redefined athletics and he is great for the competition,” he said, lauding the three-time Olympic sprint champion from Jamaica. Johnson also strongly feels that athletics is that one discipline which will excite the fans, even after the ‘Bolt-era’ is over. “I would say that, even after Bolt’s retirement, athletics would provide a lot of excitement. Being an athlete, I am and will always be excited about the sport regardless of whether or not Bolt is there. Great competition is something that the fans want to see,” the four-time Olympic champion, and winner of eight World Championship gold medals, asserted. Johnson also expressed his views on how the IAAF, which is the international governing body for the sport of athletics, is handling the sport.
“I am concerned about the future of sports, leadership of sports and the sport itself. Athletics is a simple sport. It is very easy to follow. I don t know if rule changes are going to affect it,” he concluded.
(With inputs from PTI)