As a world and Olympic champion in both the 100m and 200m, Usain Bolt has drawn frequent comparison to other double-sprint stars like Jesse Owens and Carl Lewis. Now, Bolt is trying to become even more like those legendary track and field performers.
Before a meet in Zurich, Switzerland, Bolt told reporters that he would like to try the long jump, an event at which both Owens and Lewis won Olympic golds.
"I think I would be a really good long jumper.
I've messed around with the long jump since I've been at school and I'm definitely going to give it a try."
Like a great comedic actor trying his hand at drama, going to the long jump is the next logical step for Bolt. He's already ascended to the peak of sprinting at age 23. With no true rivals in either the 100m or 200m and no higher honors than world and Olympic golds, the only thing to keep Bolt motivated is the thought of lowering his own world records. That's far from mundane, but the dream of going 9.51 in the 100m isn't exactly the stuff from which training montages are made.
Bolt needs a new challenge and the long jump is a lot better idea than the NFL. By taking on a new event, Bolt could add to his legend while maintaining his status as the world's fastest man. Going to play football would mean having to leave sprinting. Training in the long jump keeps Bolt where he belongs, on the track.
But how would he do in a new event? No less an authority than world record holder Mike Powell thinks Bolt could jump nine meters. Powell's mark, set at the 1991 world championships, is 8.95 meters.
That's tremendous praise. But even though I'm through doubting Usain Bolt, two factors make me hesitate to proclaim him the second-coming of Bob Beamon. First, I'm no physics major, but is Bolt possibly too big to be great at the long jump? His speed would get him to the board faster than anyone in history, but once in the air Bolt's stature could work against him. He's three inches taller than Carl Lewis and at least 30 pounds heavier than both Beamon and Powell were when they made their jumps.
More importantly, all of those men had competed in the long jumpyears before becoming world-class in the event. Bolt is just a beginner. His raw talent is undeniable, but the learning curve would be long.
The London Olympics start in 1,065 days. That should be long enough.