Christian Coleman admitted on Friday to being more focused on safely negotiating the notoriously tough US trials than the actual Paris Olympics, where he hopes he will bid for a sprint double.
Coleman, who beat teammate Noah Lyles to 60 metres gold in the World Indoor Championships in Glasgow in February, had to sit out the Covid-delayed Tokyo Games after missing a drugs test.
He donned a US vest at the 2016 Rio Olympics, where he ran the heats for the Justin Gatlin-led 4x100m relay squad that was eventually disqualified in the final won by Usain Bolt’s Jamaica.
“I can’t even think past June right now, just focused on being our absolute best when we need to be at the trials,” Coleman said ahead of the opening Diamond League meeting of the season in the Chinese city of Xiamen.
“If you’re not at your best there then the season’s all for nought, really.
“That’s what makes it so special to be on the American team - the fact it’s so hard to make it.”
Coleman, along with teammate Fred Kerley - the 2022 world champion and Olympic silver medallist - holds the joint sixth fastest time over 100m ever run (9.76sec) and acknowledged that the United States would have a very strong 4x100m relay squad in Paris.
“Hopefully I can start the year off on a good note,” said Coleman, who was world outdoor 100m champion in 2019 before his doping suspension. “Everyone’s goal is first to make the team but whoever makes that team is obviously well capable of getting on that relay pool and doing something special.
“The world record is definitely within our reach.”
Coleman admitted that competing in an Olympic year felt “a little different because you know the magnitude of it”.
“I feel like it would be unrealistic not to acknowledge the fact that it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that not many people have the opportunity to even experience, being in your prime and actually having a realistic chance of making it to the Olympics.”
Coleman added: “As far as the process is concerned, we do this every year, so it’s really no different. You just try not to pay too much attention to outside factors and outside pressures.
“The main thing is focus on what’s right in front of you, one day at a time. That’s the same process every year, it’s just a bigger opportunity.”
Today’s meeting in Xiamen, the first of back-to-back Diamond League meets in China, with a second in Shanghai on April 27, will also see women’s world 100m champion Sha’Carri Richardson in action in the 200m.
Coleman dubbed Richardson, who also won 200m bronze at the Budapest worlds, “special”.
“She’s somebody who’s at the forefront of women’s empowerment in sport, she’s taken it to a whole different level.
“She’s a beast, a special talent, she’s somebody who’s going to continue to propel the sport forward and take it to new heights.
“I’m a fan,” he said.
“She’s someone I take inspiration from.”
Also in action in Xiamen, the first of 15 meets on the elite one-day track and field circuit, are 12 Olympic gold medallists, notably Swedish pole vault star Mondo Duplantis and Qatar’s three-time world high jump champion Mutaz Essa Barshim.
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