Pan Am Games Lima 2019: Carl Lewis calls spade a spade
Carl Lewis is a legend. There is always substance in what he says. If he is criticising the US President Donald Trump, there is a logic behind. He arrived in Lima for more than delivering the 100m and long jump medals, something that will mark an important milestone in the Pan American Games. The son of the wind is already the protagonist even before the athletics competitions started: he spoke freely, even when asked about President Donald Trump.
“We have a President who is a racist and a misogynist, who does not foster love in the world because he does not want anyone but himself,” he says referring to Trump regarding his opinion on gender inequality in sport. Carl bluntly criticized the American president.
The American athletic stalwart is known for promoting equal rights and this, like his career, is due to his mother, Evelyn Lawler, and the training she gave him. Carl was the architect of his own career, he believes in gender equality in sports but mainly, in the importance of women in his life as an athlete.
“If I had not had a strong woman I would not be here. My mother was a pioneer, she thought that women should have opportunities just like men,” he tells the press.
He has a special closeness with the Pan American Games. His mother was a hurdler in the 50s and represented the United States in the first version of this sports fair in Buenos Aires 1951. It was she who conveyed the importance of this multisport event and the importance of competition in the Games for an athlete.
Carl took his mother’s recommendation and competed in Puerto Rico 1979 where he won the bronze medal in the long jump, one of the first achievements in a sporting career full of victories.
“My mom will turn 90, I want to live to 100. I have to work for that,” says Carl Lewis, the special guest of Panam Sports during the XVIII Pan American Games Lima 2019. He is 58 years old and a long time vegan, he changed his lifestyle to achieve the goal he set a few years ago when he planned to show his best version of himself in the sport. With this and other decisions, Carl takes account of the fundamentals in sport and, above all, for life: work and commitment.
The multiple world and Olympic champion believed in himself, that is how he set out to do the right thing and “ended up being the right thing,” he explains. Carl was an amateur who wanted to be professional. And he did it.
“I began to believe in myself and I began to find the things that I like. When I entered the sport I had a very clear idea of what I wanted to do. I wanted to jump, I wanted to be a professional, ”he says.
He plans his life and sets long-term goals, but also tries to live year by year. Now he enjoys everything he achieved as an athlete, what he worked for, and what made him a legend. The so-called “son of the wind” won 10 Olympic medals (nine gold and one silver medal), in addition to becoming world champion eight times. Lewis’s achievements were in the 100m, 200m, 4 x 100m and long jump events.
To date, no athlete has beaten Carl’s record in the long jump. The American registered a Pan American record of 8.75m, which remains in force; however, for Carl the records do not define an athlete.
“People don’t remember the world record, it’s simply a performance. We have to change the narrative of records and brands,” he says and explains that the important thing is to compete, to try to improve every day just as he did.
The man, who once competed against and admired Carl, is now his coaching partner. “I was with a red Porsche with a cell phone in 1985 and I thought, I want to be like him. And I saw myself in my career trying to emulate Carl,” says Leroy Burrel. Today, both train athletes. In addition to working in the sports sector, they encourage athletes to complete a university degree.
“We convinced athletes not only to do athletics but also to finish college,” says Carl, who along with Leroy, works with athletes from Barbados and Bahamas.
Both highlight the importance of the Pan American Games in the sense of creating more competition opportunities for athletes. A year ago they did not imagine being coaches, but athletics always calls them one way or another. “You want to get away from this, but in the end you come back,” says Lewis. And to the joy and delight of all the spectators of Lima 2019, they returned, in another role, but they returned.