Lamenting the fact that track and field athletes of today don’t come up to their seniors for advice but want to break their records, Mike Powell, the owner of the 26-year-old long jump world record, on Thursday said he wants to coach somebody to break his record someday.”I am looking for a great coaching opportunity somewhere. I will like to see someone, who I am coaching, break my record,” Powell said on the sidelines of the TSK 25K marathon run event slated to take place on Sunday. He is the brand ambassador.
“I hope the opportunity comes around to be able to coach somebody but it’s kind of weird for me because when I was competing, I was trying to find all of the answers. I would talk to Bob Beamon and Carl Lewis even. But now the young guys, they don’t come and ask me anything. They just tell me they want to break my record. I say ok, how? So I would like to coach somebody because nobody is getting close (to my record) so far,” the 54-year-old added. Powell jumped 8.95 metres in the 1991 World Championship in Tokyo and his record is yet to be bettered.
“I was a basketball player. I did some incredible things in the gym. I was strong but my natural jumping ability to jump over people, I got that from playing basketball,” Powell said when asked about the secret to his long jumps. “During my time, there were many jumpers at the highest level. For me the expectation was to jump very very far as I had to. Now the jumpers are very talented but they don’t seem to have the same mentality,” the American said about how high the stakes were during his time.
“We had an obligation to promote the sport. Every time I competed, I wanted to do my best for the fans. In 1992, 93 I jumped 8.38 and I was really upset. Then I told myself ok let’s be a showman. “The ones who stand out, in track and field in particular, are the ones who have charisma and have showman quality. I was the baby of my family and I always craved for attention. So it was natural for me to go out there and entertain the crowd.
“I learnt it from Willie Banks who is my idol and training partner also. He is my best friend to this day, I just talked to him last night,” he said, adding the athletes these days need to have a sense of responsibility about promoting the sport and taking it forward. Asked about South African Luvo Manyonga who bagged the long jump gold with 8.48m at the World Athletics Championships in London earlier this year, Powell said though he does not want his record to be broken but knows that someday it will be.
“I am glad to see people out there trying for the record. Records are made to be broken, but I don’t want to lose mine. I would like to be known as the record holder not former. But if I could do it, someone else could too. I know one day it will happen.” Powell said he always took time to gear up and his best jump would come in the fifth or sixth attempt unlike Lewis. “My competitions were always that way. My best jump will come on my fifth or sixth jump. Carl Lewis was very consistent. He would come up in his first jump and jump far. But for me I took time to figure it out.”