MUMBAI, (Reuters) – Usain Bolt has all the tools to be a top-class long jumper but the Jamaican should wait until after the 2012 Olympics to give the event a go, world record holder Mike Powell has told Reuters.
Sprinter Bolt won gold medals in the 100, 200 and 4×100 metres relay at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and has said he was considering the long jump and 400 metres.
Powell, who broke Bob Beamon’s 23-year world record at the 1991 World Championships in Tokyo, said he recognised Bolt’s long jump potential in 2009.
“I first talked to his coach and his parents in Berlin after the 2009 world championships when we were staying in the same hotel,” Powell told Reuters in a recent interview.
“I approached them and I said, ‘he should long jump’. They said, ‘you know we are talking about that’. I said I would like to be involved with that.”
Powell said his own world record of 8.95 metres could be in jeopardy if Bolt started jumping.
“He could jump so far that it will be crazy. The main elements in long jump are speed and height, which equals distance. He’s got them both,” said Powell.
“He will need the coaching and then the will and desire and bravery to try it. If he does it, everyone will expect him to break the record.”
The 47-year-old American said the event would take its toll on Bolt’s body if he started before the London Olympics.
“I know for him if he starts to long jump it’s gonna take away from his sprinting.
“He is still very young. It takes a lot of wear and tear on your body. It hurts your back, your knees, your ankles, everything. It’s very difficult.
“Even under the best circumstances, it will take some away from his sprinting.”
Powell was in India as an ambassador for the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), which signed a 10-year licensing deal with real estate company Nirmal Lifestyle to develop infrastructure for athletics in the country.