Athletics: Fast-talking Boldon gets set to take Paris by storm

Mike Rowbottom detects the sound of youthful brilliance at this weekend's world indoor athletics championships

However well Ato Boldon performs at this weekend's world indoor championships in Paris, he will be the talk of the town. And, as is his wont, Boldon - who is most likely to perform stunningly well - will do much of the talking himself.

The 22-year-old from Trinidad and Tobago, who came away from last summer's Olympics with bronze medals at 100 and 200 metres and the promise of even better things to come, talks like he runs. The words and ideas pour out with bewildering rapidity, the attitude veering between arrogance and diffidence.

Having lived in the United States since 1988, Boldon is at ease with the kind of "conversation as therapy" so popular on that side of the Atlantic. But there is a self-deprecatory instinct in Boldon that makes you like him just as you are preparing to dismiss him as a loudmouth.

Take his behaviour at the recent indoor grand prix event in Birmingham, where he won the 60m and 200m in 6.49sec and 20.35, times that were respectively best equal and best in the world this year. Afterwards he pointed out that he had run so badly in his previous two indoor meetings this season that he had begun to wonder if he had what it took to run on the boards.

"I was beginning to think, `maybe I'm an outdoor guy, maybe I'm getting complacent, maybe I'm getting paid too much now'."

Had he run as badly again, he said, he would have finished his indoor season there and then and concentrated on preparing for this summer's outdoor world championships. "If I hadn't done well I'd still be down on the track worrying about what went wrong. It's a character flaw of mine. But," he added with a grin, "obviously this changes things. Now I will run in Paris."

Boldon is aware of the futility of too much soul-searching - something, you sense, that has come to him through much soul-searching. "The Olympic champion and world record holder lost 12 races last year," Boldon said. "This is not a business to be in if you second-guess yourself."

The tranquil attitude of the Atlanta 100m gold medallist, Donovan Bailey, is something Boldon openly admires. The Trinidadian accepts now that his highly-public run-in after the 100m final with Linford Christie, whom Boldon accused of putting him off by his protest over being false-started, was counter-productive. "It didn't seem to affect Donovan," Boldon said. "I'm the one who's responsible for myself."

Boldon and Christie made up two days afterwards as they prepared for a round of the 200m. "We made eye contact and he came up to me and said: `Nuff respect'. I said the same. It was all that was needed.

"I'm still not saying what he did was right. But I'm not so sure that if I got a questionable false start and saw a lifetime chance slipping away, I wouldn't do what Linford did.

"More than anything else in the 100m, emotion is what runs highest, not logic. Linford's was an emotional response so I've never held him culpable for it."

Boldon's reception when he returned to his home country with his Olympic medals had a profound effect. "They responded as if it was two golds," he said. "Not having won anything in 20 years helps as well."

Trinidad's last notable victory - by Haseley Crawford in the 1976 Olympic 100m final - has been inspirational to a young man who prides himself on his knowledge of sprinting statistics.

"How many men have run sub-10 seconds and sub-20 for 100 and 200?" he asks rhetorically. "There are but five. I am the youngest. And I have the fastest one-day double - when I ran 19.85 and 9.94 in Lausanne last year. That's the kind of stuff that nobody else knows, where I can draw my confidence from."

At such moments, Boldon seems at one with H G Wells' Mr Lewisham, nursing his ambition as he reflects on the maxim: "Knowledge is Power".

The proposed pounds 1m challenge in May between the Olympic 100 and 200m champions, Bailey and Michael Johnson, has clearly aggravated the double bronze medallist, who plans to break Bailey's 100m world record of 9.84 in April, "just to throw a monkey wrench in the works".

Preposterous? Possibly. But if Boldon can run 9.90 at 22, what might he manage in the future? After all, Christie was 32 when he won his Olympic title. "One of my heroes is Muhammad Ali," Boldon says. "But I don't know whether he talked to convince the public or himself." Whichever applies to Boldon, if he continues to match words with deeds, he will win a lot more medals. Starting in Paris.

n Sonia McGeorge has pulled out of the British team for the world indoor championships. The 32-year-old, due to run in the 3,000 metres, has been forced to withdraw after coming down with illness. She will not be replaced. Sweden's former high jump world record holder, Patrik Sjoberg, has also pulled out after a winter plagued by calf trouble.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
From Mean Girls to Mamet: Lindsay Lohan
theatre
Sport
Nathaniel Clyne (No 2) drives home his side's second goal past Arsenal’s David Ospina at the Emirates
footballArsenal 1 Southampton 2: Arsène Wenger pays the price for picking reserve side in Capital One Cup
News
Mike Tyson has led an appalling and sad life, but are we not a country that gives second chances?
peopleFormer boxer 'watched over' crash victim until ambulance arrived
Arts and Entertainment
Geena Davis, founder and chair of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media
tv
News
i100
Travel
travelGallery And yes, it is indoors
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
The Tiger Who Came To Tea
booksJudith Kerr on what inspired her latest animal intruder - 'The Crocodile Under the Bed'
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
film
News
Alan Bennett criticised the lack of fairness in British society encapsulated by the private school system
peopleBut he does like Stewart Lee
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Account Executive/Sales Consultant – Permanent – Hertfordshire - £16-£20k

£16500 - £20000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: We are currently r...

KS2 PPA Teacher needed (Mat Cover)- Worthing!

£100 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Crawley: KS2 PPA Teacher currently nee...

IT Systems Manager

£40000 - £45000 per annum + pension, healthcare,25 days: Ashdown Group: An est...

IT Application Support Engineer - Immediate Start

£28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Software Application Support Analyst - Imm...

Day In a Page

Syria air strikes: ‘Peace President’ Obama had to take stronger action against Isis after beheadings

Robert Fisk on Syria air strikes

‘Peace President’ Obama had to take stronger action against Isis after beheadings
Will Lindsay Lohan's West End debut be a turnaround moment for her career?

Lindsay Lohan's West End debut

Will this be a turnaround moment for her career?
'The Crocodile Under the Bed': Judith Kerr's follow-up to 'The Tiger Who Came to Tea'

The follow-up to 'The Tiger Who Came to Tea'

Judith Kerr on what inspired her latest animal intruder - 'The Crocodile Under the Bed' - which has taken 46 years to get into print
BBC Television Centre: A nostalgic wander through the sets, studios and ghosts of programmes past

BBC Television Centre

A nostalgic wander through the sets, studios and ghosts of programmes past
Lonesome George: Custody battle in Galapagos over tortoise remains

My George!

Custody battle in Galapagos over tortoise remains
10 best rucksacks for backpackers

Pack up your troubles: 10 best rucksacks for backpackers

Off on an intrepid trip? Experts from student trip specialists Real Gap and Quest Overseas recommend luggage for travellers on the move
Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world