Carl Lewis, nine time Olympic medalist, is a house hold name in the US. Face it, the guy was an amazing athlete. His prowess over the 100 meters, 200 meters, 4 x 100 m relay were the stuff of legend. My belief is that his ability over the long jump was even at a higher level than his sprinting. His gold medal in 1996 in Atlanta, in my mind, was one of the Olympic's shining moments.
It is in that light of those facts and feelings about Carl Lewis that I am a bit taken back by the slamming of the London 2017 bid team's victory. Essentially, (http://www.insidethegames.biz/
To the best of our ability, our news sources believed that the bidding process was the most straightforward it has been, in any sport, in years. The evaluation team was well represented and Bob Hersh, IAAF Senior VP and a man of real integrity, lead the evaluations. In reading insidethegames.biz, which is on my daily reading list, it was clear that the seesaw effect was happening: one day, Doha 2017 looked good, the next day, London 2017 looked good. That is indicative of a bidding process where the strengths and weaknesses in a bid come to the forefront, over time.
Truth is, Lord Sebastian Coe, and the many people involved in the bid for London and the team for Doha did their best to win evenly and fairly. Were meet directors worried about the heat in Doha? Heck, many were! But many of our key athletes and coaches supported Doha as well. London's bid was well coordinated, between the Ministry of Sport & Culture, UK Athletics, London 2012, and the City of London. The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, even twittered his support out through the social media digital highway and bi-ways.
Lord Sebastian Coe is a closer. This ability makes him a daunting competitor in a bid process. He feels it, he understands what is at risk and he closes the deal. It is a wonderful gift, and I would never bet against a team including him. Just does not make sense.
In the end, Carl Lewis's real concern, about the reliance on equipment for the technical events, and the lack of genuine coaching and long term focus, which is needed to get great jumpers and throwers, is a very valid point. Yet, his "backroom" comments just muddied the waters. It makes for gripping reading, until one notes that Mr. Lewis tends to get to his real concern at the end of a discussion. Unfortunately, the lowering of standards in the long jump will be lost in his slamming London.
There are enough issues with the IAAF as they look forward-how do we save the sport of cross country?, is changing citizenship for sport something that should be tolerated?, and how do we take the obvious strengths of our sport and give athletics an even higher place in the global pantheon of sports? I just am not sure what Mr. Lewis's real intention was here.
London 2017, for many reasons, was the site that should have hosted 2017. Doha had a tremendous bid and they will host a major championship.
I am also not sure why one would slam an evaluation process and bidding process that was under such intense scrutiny. Enough other issues to focus on that Mr. Lewis could help publicize.
November 2011: Doha congratulate London on "fair fight" after losing 2017 World Championships bid
November 2011: Coe - We had to keep our nerve despite Doha "inducements"
November 2011: London awarded 2017 World Athletics Championships after decisive victory
November 2011: Doha offer $236.2 million package to host 2017 World Championships
November 2011: Exclusive - Doha has technology on its side, claims 2017 bid leader
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