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Will take time to find a new star after Usain Bolt: Linford Christie

IANS | New Delhi |

British 100 metre sprint legend Linford Christie feels the racing fraternity gave too much importance to sprint greats Usain Bolt and Mo Farah and failed to identify the next in line to whom the baton could be passed.

Christie, who won a gold in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, said nobody has dominated sprint race like Bolt did but felt that too much spotlight was given to the Jamaican.

“In my time, the field was wide open. But Bolt completely dominated the track and this will not happen again for a long time. You need a star. It is good for our sport to have a star. Bolt was good for athletics,” Christie, who was in the city to grace the Airtel Delhi Half Marathon, told reporters here.

“Bolt was projected as the only star and they (the IAAF) should have groomed some others also to become stars after Bolt. Since that was not done, it will take some time, may be a couple of years to find stars,” he added.

One of Europe’s greatest sprinters ever, Christie said it will be an open field again now that Bolt has retired during the World Championships in London in August.

In an international career spanning 17 years, Christie won 23 major championship medals for Great Britain. He is the only British athlete to have won gold medals in 100m at all four major competitions — Olympics, World Championships, Commonwealth Games and European Championships.

He is the first European to have run sub-10 seconds. His fastest time of 9.87 seconds was recorded when he won the 1993 World Championships in Stuttgart.

Christie slammed the behaviour of the crowd at the London Stadium for booing American Justin Gatlin when he ran there during the World Championships in August.

“It was wrong on the part of the crowd to boo Gatlin. Booing an athletic does not belong to our sport. If they had wanted to protest, they could have remained just silent,” he said.

On being probed about his most cherished win, Christie did not pick the 1992 Olympics final victory but the gold in the 1993 Championships in Stuttgart.

“The 1992 Olympics final did not have some of the best while all of them were there in the World Championships final a year later. So, the Stuttgart gold was my best,” he said.

American sprint legend Carl Lewis did not compete in the 1992 Olympics as he failed to make it to the US sprint team but finished fourth in the 1993 World Championships 100m final race.

Christie also said he had always preferred to win medals rather than setting records.

“Anybody will run faster sometime and so your record will go one day. But the medal you had won cannot be taken away.”

The 57-year-old also had a piece of advice for young athletes who sometimes fail to balance their life on and off the sport.

“If your life outside sport is balanced then your life in sport is well balanced. I’ve kept same friends and same people around. If all those things are smooth, it always allowed me to focus and run,” explained Christie.

The Airtel Delhi Half Marathon will be run on Sunday.