Just 0.18 seconds behind Bolt! Christian Coleman clocks 9.76 to win 100m title at World Athletic Championships- WATCH
Christian Coleman hit back at US sprinting legend Michael Johnson after powering to a brilliant 100m victory at the World Championships. Coleman blew away his rivals to take the first major outdoor title of his career, clocking a world-leading personal best of 9.76 sec at the Khalifa Stadium.
The win cemented Coleman’s status as the man to beat at next year’s Tokyo Olympics, and elevated the 23-year-old American to the head of a pack of sprinters aiming to be the new face of athletics in the post-Usain Bolt era.
In the eyes of Johnson, however, Coleman has already forfeited the right to be the figurehead of track and field after the missed drugs test controversy that marred his build-up to the games.
Coleman, however, was unmoved by Johnson’s remarks as he celebrated Saturday’s win.
“Michael Johnson doesn’t pay my bills or sign my cheques,” Coleman said. “So I don’t really care what he has to say.”
Coleman was only able to compete in Doha after the case against him was withdrawn because of a technical loophole.
Johnson however maintains that the odour of wrongdoing will continue to linger around Coleman, even if he ultimately avoided sanction.
“It completely disqualifies him, at this point, from ever being that face of the sport,” Johnson said in a BBC interview this week.
“This will follow him, as it should...Christian Coleman was being touted to replace Usain Bolt as the big star of the sport.
“I don’t think that will happen now. I think that fans of athletics don’t have any tolerance at this point for any sort of doping infraction.”
Coleman gave Johnson’s remarks short shrift though, believing that ultimately he will be judged by his performances on the track.
- Rewarding performance -
“I think the face of the sport goes to the people who are putting up the performances,” he told a press conference.
“The faces of the sport are going to be the people who are putting up the right times and representing the sport in the right way.”
Coleman rejected suggestions that he would need to do more to work as an ambassador for athletics as penance for the drug test controversy.
“You’re insinuating that something happened -- and at the end of the day I did nothing wrong,” he said, repeating his claim that his case was leaked into the public domain before it had been properly adjudicated.
“I’m just a young black man living my dream, and it’s kind of disappointing that someone would leak that information to try and smear my reputation.
“I just keep doing me and representing the sport the right way. Like I said, I didn’t do anything wrong.” Coleman, who has repeatedly denied taking performance-enhancing drugs, also denied requesting an apology from USADA in a video statement posted on Youtube earlier this month.
“Some people aren’t interested in the truth, they’re just putting out stories hating on a young black kid just living the dream,” he said. “And I have no idea why they would want to do that.
“I’ve done everything right, I’m a model citizen.” Saturday’s 100m final meanwhile was emblematic of track and field’s struggle to capture new audiences in recent years.
Instead of the packed houses that used to cram venues during the sport’s 1980s and 1990s heyday, the 100m final played out before a half-empty stadium.
Coleman is adamant however that performances like his own on Saturday will bring the fans back.
“I’ve just got to continue doing my job and more and more people will see the beauty in the sport that I see,” he said.