Linford Christie Plans on Helping Jamaicans

Story written by EPelle

Former Olympic medalist Linford Christie, who in September was controversially given a major role as a technical coach by UK Athletics Performance Director Dave Collins to help British sprinters prepare for the 2012 London Olympics, spent his Christmas holiday in Jamaica preparing plans to help Jamaican athletes fulfill their potential.

Christie, vacationing in Jamaica - the Carribean island which was his home until he turned 14-years-old, is not currently coaching any high-profile athletes.

"Linford's future is working with people," today's Guardian quotes his coach Ron Roddan as stating. "He likes working with people, he likes talking with people, he likes teaching people and likes athletics, and he will do well in whatever he likes."

Christie, who has a passion for helping people, was caught in a drugs scandal in 1999 when he tested positive for nandrolone when he was semi-retired. He stated he had sought to be a coach on the 2012 team, but was passed over by Sebastian Coe - with whom he has been known to have been engaged in a war of words since 2001.

Collins appointed Christie to one of two available poss to mentor athletes heading up to the 2012 Olympic Games in London, something which touched off a row between other athletes and fans, including Paula Radcliffe.

"We were aware that Linford is a name and a character which arouses strong emotions in people, in both directions," Collins stated on 8-September.

"Frankly though what we've done is to take the opportunity of looking at appointing two mentors and two technical coaches."

Daley Thompson and Katharine Merry were named for mentoring roles for junior athletes. Steve Backley received the other coaching appointment.

"Linford is there in a technical coaching role, extending the very good work he has been doing since before the Sydney Olympics.

"What we have done is use money from sponsors to extend (Christie's) role to be able to make greater use of his expertise in coaching."

The Athlete-as-mentor discussion has been a hot topic of late, with yours truly having also weighed in on the subject ("Are Atheltes Role Models?"). The Telegraph published a story on 8-August covering the apparent Christie appointment, going so far as to state that UK Athletics had become a laughing stock around the world.

"The IAAF ban led the British Olympic Association to decree that Christie would never be allowed team accreditation for any future Olympic Games. The BOA yesterday confirmed that their sanction would remain in place.

"UK Athletics, who claim to promote a strong anti-doping policy, are now set to become a laughing stock around the world."

Professor Peter Radford, the former world record holder for 200m and the British Athletic Federation's chief executive until 1997, condemned the appointment, quoted by the Telegraph as stating: "I am amazed that UK Athletics would take such a decision at this time. They are not the right messages and do not give the outside world any increased confidence that athletics is getting its act together.''

I am of the opinion that if an athlete - or a coach - has been involved in a wrongdoing, has learned a lesson from it, and can offer expertise without running afoul of the rules, they should be considered for such posts as Christie's.

Norwich Union pledged £50 million in sponsorship money to the sport through to the London Olympics in 2012, and has not requested where their funds be applied in terms of the Christie case.

It seems to be a bit of tomfoolery to keep out a person whose coaching passions help enable athletes rather than turn upside down the fairness of sport and competition.

Jamaican news reports have not yet surfaced concerning the possibility of Christie coaching its youth.

Christie, who was born in St. Andrew - a northern Kingston suburb of more than 500.000 inhabitants, is excited about the chance to lend a helping hand to athletes walking in Asafa Powell's footsteps.

"It would be nice to be able to play a part from overseas," states the Guardian.

"When I come back next time, or in the near future, I will see if I can be able to watch some of the youngsters. I am now trying to help others to achieve their goals and this could be seen as repaying for some of what you have achieved. They say the best thing to do is doing it yourself and the second best is showing someone else how to do it, and that's what I am hoping to do."

Jamaica has always produced talented sprinters - including world-record holder Powell, but many of their best crop of sprinters often move to the United States to find suitable coaching opportunities.

Keeping touch with elite athletes who have the technical experience to provide excellent instruction and training may help the future elite athletes Jamaica may produce remain loyal to their roots, and provide excellent diversification of the knowledge base those coaches bring.

Linford Christie - an Olympic, World, Commonwealth and European 100m gold-medal winner - may have a word or two of encouragement to offer.

Further Reading:
Linford Christie's IAAF Profile here

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