As sporting giants go, there are not many bigger than nine-time Olympic and 10-time World Champion Carl Lewis.
As the games started, euronews caught up with the man who has been called the “Olympian of the Century.”
We asked him: “Team USA dominated the medal table until 2008. China now seems to have taken over, do you think this is a new trend or is the US going to be stronger in 2012?”
Lewis replied: ‘‘It’s close but the United States are still winning the medals. I actually think that they are probably going to end up on top of the gold and the medal chart because even in Beijing the US still won the medal count, which is interesting because the home team normally does extremely well and China did very well. But I think after the swimming, the United States will take the lead in the overall medal count.’‘
Aiming to beat the Jamaican three-time Olympic Champion and overwhelming favourite Usain Bolt in the sprint events will be American three-time World Champion Tyson Gay – but Lewis believes his nation can pull some surprise golds out of the track and field bag as well as coming good on the events where Team USA are favourites.
On that score Carl Lewis told us: ‘‘I am really excited about the fact the US are putting together a good team, and we are going to win some medals in some events we are not used to winning, like in some of the distances that we haven’t been winning recently, we have a great shot there. We are going to be dominant in the sprints and hurdles from what I see. We’ll also be strong in the middle distances. The women are going to be amazing, so America is going to look good this year.’‘
Lewis also had his views on the hundreds of empty seats seen on TV footage, something which angered thousands of sports fans who had struggled to get their hands on the valuable tickets to the Olympic venues.
Carl Lewis said: ‘‘This tends to happen with every Olympics. I have been to eight Olympic Games and it has happened every single time as a result of tickets being given to sponsors and federations. I think in the future, they will put together a new system. But it has always happened, the difference now is we have new media and people can say ‘I am angry’ take a picture and tweet it to the world – that didn’t happen four years ago.’‘