Frankie Fredericks at an IAAF Ambassadors Press Conference (© Getty Images)
At the fourth of the IAAF Ambassadors Press Conferences, 1993 IAAF World Championships gold medallists Frankie Fredericks and Colin Jackson were accompanied on Tuesday (13) by Russia bronze medal winner in the 110m Hurdles at this year’s Championships, Sergey Shubenkov.
One journalist asked the question: “Has Usain Bolt become too important for the sport?”
CJ: It might surprise you but there was athletics before Usain Bolt and it didn't do too badly and there will be athletics after Usain Bolt.
Usain is unique. He is sporting phenomenon. He transcends the sport. He is one of the biggest sports stars in the world. I understand what you saying, but I don’t think the sport promotes Usain Bolt. I think Usain Bolt promotes Usain Bolt. I think that is the difference. We are very lucky to have him in the sport. He will have a great influence on every kid in the sport. Even a shot putter will want to run as fast as Usain Bolt because he is an iconic figure.
Colin Jackson and Frankie Fredericks were then asked about how they have coped with life since retirement.
CJ: The skills you learn in athletics I believe are transferable to any industry. In athletics you learn discipline. You learn focus, you have drive and determination. It is amazing how you can use the things that you’ve learned in our sport. I really, truly believe you can apply that to any industry.
FF: The critical part is you don't just retire. Any athlete should prepare for life after sport. Every day in training we manage our own (business) empire. We take that skill and transfer it to life after sport. We in the IAAF Athlete Commission believe it is very important to give athletes the tools to help themselves after they retire from the sport.
Colin Jackson was asked for his thoughts on Monday's men's 110m Hurdles final, which was without the 2004 and 2008 Olympic Games champions Liu Xiang and Dayron Robles.
CJ: Yes, they were missing, but we had the defending World champion (Jason Richardson) the Olympic champion and World record holder (Aries Merritt) in the race.
We were right smack, bang up to date with the best. The medals were real. The performances were real and this man (he said turning to Shubenkov) picked up the bronze, so it was definitely a tough competition.
Of course, we adore and love Liu. I marvel at his fluency over the barriers. He has an exceptional technique. The fact he was so smooth over the hurdles was the reason he became the Olympic champion and world record holder because when it came to the real part of the race at hurdles nine and 10 he could rely on his silky technique.
Colin was then asked his further thoughts on the women's 100m Hurdles and whether the barriers set too low?
CJ: There is always going to be a debate about the height of the women’s Hurdles. I think if they were to change the height, they would have changed it by now. Barriers are barriers and technique is technique. You always want to clear them in the most efficient way. Take, for example, Sally Pearson. She is a real hurdler, so solid, so smooth, so I don't necessarily think you should put the hurdles up.
Shubenkov was then asked can he become the ‘Usain Bolt of Russian athletics’?
SS: I would like to make a show of my event. Sport is like theatre, it is like art but to be Usain Bolt I need to win as much as he does. Once I've done that, I can be a showman and I can have my unique gesture. I can then throw Russian parties everywhere between DJ sets. First I need to train hard and then compete to win.
Steve Landells for the IAAF