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London Olympics not an easy job for Bolt, says Italian world record-holder

07-13-2012 09:34 BJT Special Report:2012 London Olympic Games |

By Marzia De Giuli

MILAN, July 12 (Xinhua) -- Champion sprinter Usain Bolt has the potential to break his own world records at the upcoming London Olympics, but it would be quite a hard victory, former Olympic sprint champion Pietro Mennea told Xinhua in an interview on Thursday.

Mennea called himself "confident" that Bolt could repeat his success of four years ago at Beijing Olympics, where he won gold medals in 100m, 200m and 4X100m races.

Bolt, who has three Olympic gold medals to his name, "is slightly ahead of all others," said the 1980 Olympic 100m gold medalist and longtime world 200m record-holder.

However, Mennea said, it will be certainly more difficult now that the runner has a new rival, also a Jamaican national, Yohan Blake. "Therefore he cannot afford to do any minimum mistakes, which will make the competition even harder," he said.

To make Bolt such a strong sprinter is his extraordinary figure, according to the Italian champion. "Just consider that I am 1.80 meters tall, while Bolt stands 1.96. There is a big difference of course, it is evident he is a predestined for great performances," he highlighted.

Speaking of China's 110m hurdler Liu Xiang, Mennea said the Olympic medalist and world champion could pull off the same feat as in 2004 Athens Olympics.

Liu has clearly showed his talent in the past games thus he could win the gold medal again, he said.

However, after it overtook the United States to top the Olympic medal table four years ago, China should be able in the future to bring out a more "homogenously" competitive Olympic team, given the extraordinary potential of its 1.3-billion people, he noted.

Mennea was convinced that creating a breeding ground for young talented athletes is fundamental for a country in order to be highly competitive in the Olympics.

Jamaica has always brought out great sprinters, and today even more, he said. "Bolt is the country's greatest expression, and now Blake is coming out after becoming world champion last year at the Daegu World Championships."

The outcome was especially due to the country's functioning recruitment system in schools where "a young champion cannot pass unnoticed," Mennea stressed adding "recruitment should be the starting point to put together a good group of athletes to work on."

In fact, training is only a "successive phase" of secondary importance compared to recruitment of naturally talented people, he said.

And despite many years have passed since he was competing in the 1970s and 1980s, the training methodologies of that times are still in the vanguard, Mennea noted.

"We were the first to study and test training methodologies that are still in use today," he said.

But unfortunately, most of Italy's sports belong to military groups. "At the Beijing Olympics, for example, 75 percent of the Italian 27 medals were won by athletes from military groups," the champion pointed out.

In his view, the main weak point in the Italian sports world is that "sporting organizations are filled with people of little value" therefore unable to cultivate young talents.

He also added that not bidding for the 2020 Olympics was the right decision for Italy now reckoning with a dramatic economic crisis that has been underestimated for long time.

Editor:James |Source: Xinhua

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