Ato Boldon (© Getty Images)
Boldon, who recorded the world’s fastest time for 1997 over 200m (20.35) less than an hour after matching the fastest time over 60m (6.49), has a further incentive next month because, for the first time in history, competition awards will be made to event winners: if the Trinidadian wins both sprint titles he will take home a cool $100,000.
Curiously, Boldon’s indoor campaign began poorly. He finished last over 60m in Lievin where Jamaica’s Michael Green capitalised on a great start to record a personal best 6.49 just over a week ago and was also beaten in Stockholm four days ago by Bruny Surin. "I thought maybe I was an outdoor guy," was Boldon’s wry comment after getting back to winning ways at Birmingham’s National Indoor Arena: "Today was a pleasant surprise. I can’t lose indoors to people who I beat outdoors."
But Boldon’s path to glory in Paris is blocked by the imposing presence of Surin. The Canadian, 100m silver medalist at the 1995 World Championships in Gothenburg and winner of Olympic 4x100 relay gold in Atlanta, has been crowned World Indoor Champion at 60m in the last two editions. "No-one has ever won three consecutive titles," said Surin: "My whole indoor season is planned so I can win gold again in Paris." Surin’s fastest this year was 6.51 in Stockholm.
Two Jamaicans: 26 year-old Michael Green, who has been in superb form indoors, and Ray Stewart, who was an Olympic 100m finalist as long ago as 1984, will try and spoil the script. Green’s 6.49 in Lievin was just 8 hundredths of a second slower than Andre Cason’s world record while Stewart will be aiming to improve his own season’s best of 6.52. Stewart has the distinction of being the only sprinter to have qualified for every World Championships and Olympic 100m final between 1984 and 1995.
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