By Gene Cherry
(Reuters) – It’s been a tough outdoor season for Christian Coleman with only one 100m win, but the world silver medallist says he is ready to turn things around against the “new wave of sprinters” in Saturday’s Birmingham Diamond League meeting.
“Birmingham is going to be super competitive with Noah (Lyles), Yohan (Blake) and the British sprinters, but I’m looking to going out there and proving myself again,” the American sprinter told Reuters in a telephone interview.
“I saw something where I was the underdog, which is crazy.”
Yet not only will the 22-year-old be facing Lyles, the year’s co-leader at 100m, and former Jamaican world champion Blake, but Britain’s Zharnel Hughes and Reece Prescod, the newly crowned European gold and silver medallists.
“Those two guys and even some of the other guys that they have are really talented and a part of the new wave of sprinters who are going to push the sport forward just like the American guys will,” Coleman said of his British rivals.
“Last year in the 4×1 (relay at the world championships) it came down to us two (Britain and the United States), really close at the line.
“I think it will be the same way the next couple of world championships and Olympics, and I am looking forward to the challenge.”
The dominant collegiate sprinter of 2017 who began his professional career by medalling at the worlds in London, then lighting up indoors with a 60m world record he backed up by winning the world indoor title in Birmingham, Coleman has found the outdoor season to be a major challenge.
A hamstring injury and unexpected defeats have marred his racing, resulting in only one win, a big one at the Rabat Diamond League meeting.
“It’s been a pretty rough but I’m pretty excited about the last couple of meets,” he said of the race in Birmingham and the Diamond League final in Brussels on Aug. 31.
“It (the right hamstring injury) came back around pretty nicely and I have been doing a lot of rehab and got some good training under my belt so I am feeling pretty good.”
He thought he was back when he ran 9.98 seconds in Rabat to defeat American compatriots Ronnie Baker, Lyles and Mike Rodgers plus Britain’s Prescod and CJ Ujah.
“For a lot of people that might just have been another race, but for me it was something that I felt like I had something to prove,” Coleman said.
But in practice a few days before London’s Diamond League meeting, Coleman “kind of felt something in my other hamstring.”
“I think I was just overcompensating for my previous injury,” he said.
So after warming up on race day, Coleman and his camp decided he should not run.
“It was a tough one for me, but the people around me made the best decision,” he said.
Now, despite the ups and downs, Coleman still believes he has a chance to be world ranked number one.
“I do think if I win these next two races it will go a long way in ranking me number one even if the season has been rough,” he said.
“That would be a huge confidence booster going into 2019.”
The new season likely will be far different for Coleman than 2018, especially indoors, with the Doha world championships not ending until October.
“I doubt that I will run the 60, maybe run the 200, 300 maybe 4×4 just to be on top of training,” he said.
“It would be kind of hard to go out there and put down a fast time in the 60 and still be able to carry that all the way to October but we’ll see.”
Outdoors, though, he will be all out.
“I think I have just as much talent as anybody when it comes to the 100 or 200,” he said of running both in the upcoming world championships and 2020 Olympics.
“So I think I’ll have a good shot at making the team in both.”
(Reporting by Gene Cherry in Raleigh, North Carolina)