US athletics 'doomed' says Lewis

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The Independent Online
Carl Lewis, the eight-times Olympic champion, says athletics is "doomed" in the United States unless administrators take a more professional approach. Lewis, who is aiming for an unprecedented fourth consecutive Olympic long jump title at Atlanta, said he did not think the sport had progressed as it should have done.

"I think unless it does, it's doomed and that's sad," Lewis said. "The passion to compete is there, but the passion to be in the sport is no longer there. I feel like I've put in 15 years in the sport to try to get somewhere and I feel like it is drifting back to where it was when I started. That is really depressing."

The 35-year-old American said track and field needed to develop a new marketing strategy and integrate leading athletes into its plan. "We've lost the kids, the fan base," he said. "Track and field, to get the fans back, should not charge one kid under 18."

He said he was so disillusioned with the sport that he would not recommend it to children.

Ollan Cassell, executive director of USA Track and Field, said Lewis "should look at his bank account" if he thinks the sport is in decline. "He should look at the media exposure and the attendance. They've all been better than they were 10 years ago."