Long jump world champion Malaika Mihambo of Germany plans to move to the United States in summer to be trained by former great Carl Lewis.
Mihambo, 26, told the Bild am Sonntag Sunday paper that Lewis and sprint coach Leroy Burrell can make her a better athlete at a training centre in Houston, Texas.
‘He is the athlete of the century. I admire what he has achieved in two sprint events, the relay, thelong jump,’ Mihambo said.
‘I want to develop as an athlete and as a person. This is the case in this environment. Carl Lewis and Leroy Burrell, who will become my sprint coach, have been among the world elite for years. I can learn a lot from them because they followed the same path.’ Lewis famously won 100m, 200m, 4x100m and the first of four straight long jump golds at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles. In all, he won nine Olympic golds and eight world titles.
Mihambo won last year's world title with 7.30m in Doha after dominating the entire season, and has a third-place finish over 100m at the 2019 national championships.
Germany's Sportswoman of the Year was a top favourite for the Tokyo Olympics which have now been postponed to 2021 because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Mihambo and the now 58-year-old Lewis met recently via an online event, and she named the first talks ‘very inspirational.’ ‘It is time for something new,’ she said, adding she feels that ‘now is the time for such a big step’ and plans to move to Taxas in August - coronavirus permitting.
Mihambo is the latest German athletics star to train in the US, joining sprinter Gina Lueckenkemper and 1,500m and 5,000m runner Konstanze Klostehalfne, the latter remaining in the US after the controversial Nike Oregon Project was disbanded.
The German Athletics Federation (DLV) said Mihambo's coach Ralf Weber ended their cooperation after 15 years ‘for personal reasons’ and said they regretted her decision to move abroad - informed only on short notice by the athlete Friday and Saturday.
‘If athletes are looking for a new challenge to develop personally and athletically, we cannot stop them,’ DLV President Juergen Kessing said in a statement.
Head coach Annett Stein said that local coaches haven proven they can ‘develop world-class athletes’ and added: ‘The DLV proposed several options to Mihambo and named the risk of significant methodological changes in the year before the Olympics if she moved to the US.’
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