Shanghai: Four-time Olympic gold medallist Michael Johnson today backed multiple Olympic and world champion Usain Bolt to defend his titles in 100m and 200m events at the World Championship, to be held in Beijing from August 22 to 30. “Bolt is still the favourite to win at the World Championship this August. But he has to stay healthy. That is the key. It is still early days, may be a month from now things will get clearer,” Johnson said.
Asked about Bolt’s appearance in 400m, Johnson said: “He is not going to run in the 400m. This debate has been going on for long, so we can kill this debate.” Interestingly in 2011, Johnson had said that Bolt can cement his legendary status by stepping up to 400m and had backed the Jamaican to break his world record.
To a question on prevention of doping menace, he said: “We, at Laureus don’t fight against doping. We are not involved directly with WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency) in dealing with doping. We try to use sports to change lives, bring happiness in people’s lives.”
On the issue of female athletes facing bans for high levels of male hormones, he said: “I don’t have much information on that but I always believe if a rule is broken then you should be punished.” Meanwhile, retired Chinese tennis star Li Na, who is up against Serena Williams in a six-woman field for sportswoman of the year in the Laureus World Sports Awards, complimented Indian tennis ace Sania Mirza and her Swiss partner Martina Hingis for their World No. 1 ranking.
“I don’t play doubles, so can’t say much but it is a good achievement. I have always admired Martina and her comeback shows her passion for the game. I think it will inspire many youngsters to take up tennis,” Li Na said. Sania became the first Indian tennis player to be ranked World No. 1 in women’s doubles along with her partner Martina on Monday, riding on three successive title wins at Indian Wells, Miami Masters and Family Circle cup.