Carl Lewis

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Carl Lewis looks back on LA ’84 and forward to 2028

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Summer 2019 will mark 35 years since the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics.

Carl Lewis, a man who spent much of his career racing the clock for world records, is still unable to believe how quickly time passes.

“It’s insane that it’s gone by that quick,” he says, chuckling. “I’m 57 and I don’t know when this happened.”

Lewis won four gold medals in Los Angeles, matching the feat Jesse Owens accomplished in 1936. For Lewis, it was the start of an exquisite Olympic career that included 10 medals (nine gold) and spanned four Games. Asked what he remembers most about L.A., Lewis reflected in a phone interview this week, “Honestly, this sounds weird, [but] I don’t remember a lot. The stress level was so high…There was no time to even stop and think about it.”

With four events on his program in L.A., a then-23-year-old Lewis started the Games with four straight days of competition, competing in the prelims and final of the 100m and long jump. On his first day off, he got a haircut. Then came the 200m final, one more day off, and two days of relay competition. At the end of it, Lewis had gold medals in the 100m, 200m, 4x100m relay and the long jump.

Lewis thought then that he’d retire in his 20s. But he continued to run with the Santa Monica track club, and after winning two more gold medals at his second Olympics in 1988, and then another two in 1992, “there [were] all these guys younger than me. I finished ’92 and said, ‘I’m still running with them, still as fast as them, so let’s just keep running until I can’t anymore. Without them, there’s absolutely no way it could’ve happened.”

At age 35, he won a final gold medal at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta in his signature event, the long jump.

“I’m the luckiest Olympian ever,” Lewis says. “My first Games were in L.A., my hometown… And my last were in my home country.”

When he looks back at his Olympic accomplishments, Lewis says the first and the last medals he won are particularly memorable.

“To come back and do that [win long jump gold in Atlanta] at that age, that one really means a lot,” he says. “The reality is if I didn’t win the 100m in L.A., it all would’ve stopped…The most endearing one was the last one but the most important one without question was the first one.”

Lewis’ last competitive season was 1997. Before the Texas Relays that year, he was waiting at home for a floral delivery and told his teammates to leave for Austin without him. He’d catch up. “I ended up waiting for my plants…and then I thought, it’s time to retire if your plants are more important,” he says.

Lewis remains involved in track and field, now as a coach. After moving back to Texas in 2013, he started working as an assistant coach at the University of Houston, his alma mater.

Lewis never thought he would coach – he had too many other things he wanted to do outside of track. But after Leroy Burrell – a longtime friend, 1992 Olympic teammate and the head coach at Houston – approached him about it, he quickly saw an opportunity to grow sprinting talent at the collegiate level to help athletes reach their full potential.

Lewis says he sometimes feels even more emotionally invested watching his athletes than he did during his own competitions. “One thing was joy, this is pride,” he says. “I really feel happy that I’m helping someone else have that experience… I’ve had more emotions, high and low, coaching than I did [as an athlete].”

Lewis no longer runs – he was never much of a jogger, he says. Instead, he rides his bike around the neighborhood and even takes trapeze and aerial silks classes. When he isn’t coaching, he is a leader of the Perfect Method, a program designed to help athletes and coaches maximize performance. He’s also plenty busy keeping up with his granddaughter, Sapphire McKinley, who is two.

When Los Angeles hosts the Olympics for the third time in 2028, Lewis could be back at the Coliseum as a coach in the same place his Olympic story began 44 years earlier.

“That’s the interesting thing,” he says. “Back in that same stadium, trying to help someone do what I did.”

Lewis will be appearing on “Undeniable with Dan Patrick” on Wednesday night.

Justin Gatlin: I’m the world’s fastest man

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NEW YORK — Justin Gatlin is the world 100m champion. Usain Bolt is the Olympic 100m champion and world-record holder.

So who holds the title of world’s fastest man?

“I would consider myself the world’s fastest man because I won the [most recent] title,” at worlds in August, Gatlin said earlier this month at the USATF Black Tie and Sneakers Gala. “But you have to pay homage to Usain Bolt. He has the fastest times in the world.”

Carl Lewis, a two-time Olympic 100m champion, agreed.

“The one who won [a global title] last is the world’s fastest man,” Lewis said. “That’s Justin. He was the last one to win it. You can’t go back two times ago.”

Gatlin has been busy since edging Christian Coleman and Bolt at worlds in London. He started the Justin Gatlin Foundation, which hosted its inaugural sprint clinic in Staten Island in September, and traveled around the country to thank supporters.

He pointed out that he will be considered the world’s fastest man until at least 2019; 2018 is the only year in the Olympic cycle without a global championship. Worlds are held in odd years.

“No matter how many races you lose,” Gatlin said, “you’re still world champion.”

Gatlin’s goal for 2018 is “just running fast.” He plans on entering fewer races but also competing in smaller meets in locations around the world he would not normally visit.

Gatlin, who finished second to Bolt in the 200m at the 2015 World Championships, is not sure whether he will continue to race that event. He has not since bowing out in the Rio Olympic semifinals. Coach Dennis Mitchell prefers he specialize in the 100m.

Gatlin, 35, still has his eye on Tyson Gay’s American record of 9.69 seconds. Gatlin’s personal best is 9.74, set in 2015.

“People always look at age as a factor, but I still feel young,” said Gatlin, the 2004 Olympic 100m champion who served a four-year doping ban from 2006 to 2010. “I train with young people. I take care of my body. I’ve learned when to tap-out during races and practices. I think I’ve still got a good shot at running the fastest I’ve ever run in my life over the next three years.”

As reigning world champion, Gatlin is guaranteed a 2019 World Championships spot, additional incentive to continue sprinting.

“I’m already on the starting line, and I’ve got to train for that because I can’t throw that away,” Gatlin said. “Then I’ve got to squeeze 2020 out after 2019.”

Gatlin will be 38 in 2020, when the Olympics will be in Tokyo. He is already the oldest Olympic 100m medalist ever after finishing second to Bolt at the Rio Games at 34.

“In a perfect world,” he said, “I started my career with an Olympic gold medal, and I would like to end my career with an Olympic gold medal.”

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Watch Usain Bolt, Carl Lewis, Jesse Owens in the same race

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Eurosport put the three most iconic sprinters of all time into the same race, with technological assistance of course.

It took Usain BoltCarl Lewis and Jesse Owens‘ sprints from the 2012, 1984 and 1936 Olympics, respectively, and superimposed them on the 2012 London Olympic track.

In the Race of Legends, Bolt burst out to significant lead by 50 meters, but Lewis actually closed a bit on him in the latter half of the race.

Their final times:

Bolt — 9.63 (current Olympic record)
Lewis — 9.99
Owens — 10.3

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