Gold Coast, April 8 (AFP) World athletics chief Sebastian Coe blasted the “obsession” with Usain Bolt as track and field entered its new era without the Jamaican showman at the Commonwealth Games on Sunday.
Coe said there was no shortage of athletics talent for the Games, the first major competition since Bolts retirement last year left the sport with a void to fill.
“This obsession with…,” said Coe, before stopping himself and adding: “There are plenty of athletes around.
“Are we going to replace Usain Bolt? Probably not, because you dont replace Muhammad Ali.
“But Marvin Hagler and Manny Pacquiao and (Julio Cesar) Chavez and the great boxers came through.” Bolt, the eight-time Olympic champion and 2014 Commonwealth relay gold-medallist, would have been the star attraction and a certain crowd-puller at the Gold Coast.
The competition is also missing world champion hurdler Sally Pearson, a Gold Coast resident and the face of the Games, after she pulled out with an Achilles injury.
Jamaican sprinters Yohan Blake and Elaine Thompson, and Shaunae Miller of the Bahamas now shape as the main athletes to watch during the eight-day athletics programme.
“Usain under any set of circumstances has driven our sport and thats a high-class problem to have, and he will remain engaged,” said Coe.
“But dont construe the fact that we dont have Usain as suddenly weve lost a generation of talent. Its there.” Australias Dane Bird-Smith and Jemima Montag won the mens and womens race walks as the athletics competition got underway, with the mens hammer and 5,000m finals due later on Sunday.
Elsewhere in Gold Coast, Punam Yadav grabbed Indias fifth weightlifting title in the womens 69kg class while Indian shooter Manu Bhaker won the womens 10m air pistol. AFP BS BS
This is published unedited from the PTI feed.