Athletics: Bailey relishes his superior status

Norman Fox on the Caribbean connection that rules the 100m
Click to follow
Donovan Bailey, the Canadian successor to Linford Christie as 100 metres world champion, was glowing a lot and gloating a little in the morning after. The question was obvious: Would he have won had Christie not suffered a stretched hamstring?

"I get asked all the time about Ben Johnson, now I get asked about Linford Christie. What about me? I sympathise but it's my turn now."

The other obvious question is whether, if Christie does retire at the end of the season, Bailey has it in him to succeed as both world and Olympic champion? With the demise of the Americans there is no reason to doubt his claims.

Carl Lewis is as good as finished and Mike Marsh was the highest-placed American in the final here on Sunday and was only fifth. Sprinters of Caribbean origin are clearly dominant, and likely to remain so.

Bailey, who lives in the shadow of Johnson's drugs disgrace, admires Christie enormously. "Before I came here I thought: 'He's The Man'. He'd done it all."

But it was Bailey, not Christie, who had run faster throughout this summer, with a best time of 9.91sec that Christie had not achieved since last summer's Commonwealth Games. Nevertheless, he still thought Christie would be the one to beat.

What, above all, he admires in the former champion is his longevity in an event that tears at the muscles probably more than any other. Being 27 himself, he accepts that Atlanta may be his one chance for an Olympic gold to add to the only significant medal he has yet collected, a Commonwealth Games gold in last year's 4x100m relay.

On the other hand he knows that, like Christie, he wasted his talent in his teens and early twenties by wanting to have a good time all of the time.

Unlike the pair of them, Ato Boldon, the 21-year-old from Trinidad who took the bronze medal here behind Bailey and another Canadian, Bruny Surin, is concentrating hard at a young age and says confidently: "I'm thinking of myself as the most talented young sprinter since Carl Lewis. I'll keep working and I'll get there."

He first showed his potential at a high level by reaching the quarter- finals in the last World Championships in Stuttgart, but he had also won the world junior sprint title in 1992.

He, too, admires Christie's ability to stay at the top for so long. "Look at him, always doing what he loves to do. I want to do better - four Olympics. I've got these goals."

n The International Amateur Athletic Federation has asked Italian officials why they have not submitted the Cuban Ivan Pedroso's long jump mark of 8.96m set at Sestriere on 29 July as a world record. The Italian federation decided it would not submit the record for ratification after video pictures showed a man standing in front of the wind measuring machine during Pedroso's attempt.

n Marie-Jose Perec, France's Olympic champion, has withdrawn from the women's 400m and 400m hurdles, because of a slight hamstring injury.