Campbell: You can’t change the rules just to suit Bolt

FORMER Olympic sprint champion Darren Campbell believes it would be dangerous for athletics chiefs to start tinkering with the false-start rule in order to prevent a repeat of Usain Bolt’s World Championship disqualification at next year’s London Olympics.

Bolt fell victim of the rule – which he supported when a change was originally proposed in 2009 – in Daegu last month that sees any athlete jumping the gun disqualified.

The Jamaican 100m and 200m world record holder last week urged the International Association of Athletics Federations to consider reverting back to the original ‘two strikes and you’re out’ system. But Campbell, a 4x100m gold medallist in Athens seven years ago, believes the current rule is fair and, if anything, plays into Bolt’s hands.

“Everybody wants to see how fast Bolt can run at the Olympics next year,” Campbell told City A.M. “But the rules are in place and you can’t go changing things because of one incident. Who’s to say he wouldn’t false-start two or three times and then people would be calling for another change.

“You have to be careful what you wish for and what you want changed. You can’t go shaping an event around one person because you want to see him create history again.

“I think what happened to Bolt in Daegu was that he got caught up emotionally with the fact that he was starting well in the heats, obviously felt in great shape and wanted to put on a show for the crowd.

“In any case if I was him I wouldn’t want the rule changed because the start isn’t as important to him as other athletes.

“His main strength is the last third of the race when his long stride really comes into play. For the other guys who rely on the start they are less likely to be anticipating the gun because they only get one shot at it.”

Bolt will undoubtedly represent one of the star attractions at next summer’s Games, but doubts over his fitness, coupled with the emergence of stablemate Yohan Blake, who last month ran the second fastest 200m of all time, means the Jamaican’s sprint domination is not as total as it once was.

Campbell (left) still believes Bolt will start as firm favourite to defend his Olympic titles in London but feels the key to toppling him depends on his opponents’ mentality, rather than physicality.

Asked if Bolt’s eccentric pre-race mannerisms were a good thing for the sport, Campbell said: “It’s certainly a good thing for Usain Bolt because he feeds off the attention and reaction he gets from the crowd. If it psyches the other guys out then so be it. At the end of the day it’s what he’s always done so nobody can complain there are any surprises.

“What worries me more is when everyone else starts trying to do their own thing. That tells me they’re not focused on what they’ve got to do and are already thinking Usain Bolt will win no matter what.

“You’ve got to focus on what relaxes you. Usain Bolt’s showmanship isn’t about wanting to be the centre of attention, it’s about him getting into a state of mind that helps him focus on the job.

“If you’re going to beat him then you can be worried about or concerned about the guy next to you. It’s all about trying to blank him out, as hard as that might be.”

Darren Campbell was on the blocks at the Scoop at More London helping Powerade launch a promotion to win tickets to the London 2012 Olympics 100m Finals. Find out more at poweradegb.com