Friday, 30 June 2017 09:35

Colin Jackson is optimistic for the future of athletics

Colin Jackson believes athletics remains in good health despite the forthcoming retirement of Usain Bolt, Russia's ongoing exile and the debate over wiping world records.

The 50-year-old two-time 110 metres hurdles world champion says athletics has emerging talent to take the place of Bolt, who appeared laboured in winning the 100m at the Golden Spike meeting in Ostrava on Wednesday night.

Jamaica's Bolt, an eight-time Olympic gold medallist, appears to be struggling for form ahead of his global swansong at August's IAAF World Championships in London.

But Jackson is adamant athletics will be in a good place when the global figurehead quits.

"The sport existed before him," Jackson told Press Association Sport.

"We're blessed for all these years to have Usain and the way he can draw the attention of the general public.

"Now he's going to retire, we have other superstars, not that can replace him in exactly the same way, but their performances are phenomenal."

Jackson pointed to United States' Kendra Harrison and Omar McLeod of Jamaica in the sprint hurdles and South Africa's Wayde van Niekerk, the Olympic 400m champion who beat Bolt's 300m time in Ostrava.

And he played down concerns over Bolt's performance in the Czech Republic with the World Championships looming.

Jackson added: "Usain was really comfortable with his performance. He did enough to win. He only ran about 70 metres.

"It's nice to see him back on the track. Nothing, for me, to worry about. It was like we see him running in the heats."

Russia will be absent from London 2017, with the ban imposed by the world governing body, the IAAF, still in place.

Russia will return once it meets its obligations and Jackson believes the sport will be better for the alienation of the nation.

He said: "It tells every single individual and every country 'it doesn't matter how big you are, we definitely want to change your mindset and you've got to be drug free if you want to compete in our sport'.

"That message was clear. Once Russia's allowed back in I think that will change many people's views. They will know we're working hard to do that and they're working hard to put their house in order."

One of the proposals made to combat doping scandals was re-writing world records prior to 2005. Jackson could lose his 1994 indoor 60m hurdles world record as a result.

The Welshman, who has been against the proposal since it was first made in May, added: "You can't really erase records. It's not just records – you've got to erase everyone's personal best. That's difficult to justify.

"You can't keep doing restarts. It would make the sport a bit of a farce."

Yet despite the trials and tribulations endured by athletics in recent years, Jackson still has faith.

He added: "I still love track and field. I see the pure side of the sport."

Jackson was speaking at the Go Run For Fun event which saw 5,000 children from across the UK run two kilometres at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

He said: "What's really important for me is that we see this activity from the very seed of it to this phenomenal running event. It's just about being active. It makes me happy."

OK, more links:

READ: 2017 TrackTown Summer Series Brings Innovative Track And Field Circuit To New York City For Championship

READ: Best British athletes prepare to compete at Alexander Stadium for IAAF World Championship Trials

READ: Former European hurdles champion Rhys Williams retires

READ: Usain Bolt and Mo Farah triumph at Golden Spike meeting in Czech Republic

READ: Do blades give runners an unfair advantage?

READ: [Enterview] London calling: Morris hopes to strike gold at World Championships