Sunday, December 05, 2010

The Day I Met Carl Lewis In Person

Frederick Carlton Lewis, otherwise known to most of us as Carl Lewis was born on July 1, 1961. He is 49 years old this year and still looked like he could beat me on a 100m dash even when i was 17.

Jamie Pang, or better known to some as CarboMan in the Malaysian running community messaged me about a week ago asking if myself and a few running blogger would want to have a once in a lifetime opportunity to meet up with a legend.

How to say NO?
This morning at Nike flagship store in Pavilion KL, i met up with Jamie, Pueh Tian and UltraYip, together with some invited guess which are people from all level of the running community and handful of national athletes.
To be frank, i do not know what to expect. My memory of Carl Lewis was the 1988 Olympic where i saw him run before i go to school. Back then, everyone wants to be Carl Lewis or Ben Johnson when it comes to track&field or sports day. I must admit i was kind of starstruck and awe-struck.

I prepared 10 questions to ask the legend. I was afraid it will come out stupid. I have been asking around friends what they want to ask him if they had a chance to see him.

At about 11.30am, a tall figure was spotted at the far end of Pavilion. With bodyguards and escort, it got to be the legend himself.
Time passed really fast when you were enjoying every moment of it. Carl Lewis is an entertainer. He has no air about who he was and who he is now. Humble and straight shooter, very funny too. But here are a few things that he has shared, that was answer to some of the questions asked by those that attended.
The 4F: Family, Friends, Faith and Forget Myself.
Carl was asked about what was his source of inspiration and he mentioned the 4F. He has always been close to his family, coming from a close knit family with his parents being his first coach. Friends aplenty and those include his own competitors. He also mentioned that out of the field, everyone is friend. Faith was a personal thing and it is ourselves to decide what we want out of it and forget myself simply meant putting others in front and be selfless.

In my years of doing sports and staying healthy, i could not agree more. Family has always been the pillar of strength and support. Friends has always been there, else it will be a very lonely race start for many people. Faith is something personal and i have made it known that i believe in God, but religion are man-made. Forget myself is one thing that is hard to do, as we sometime are selfish and self centred.

And it was good to know that a legend is as down to Earth as the next person i know.
Do the Rocky
He was asked about the best core training he ever had. Pyrotechnic and medicine ball was his answer. He also mentioned running up the stairs in the stadium...and Rocky soundtrack instantly came to my mine. I swore i imagined Carl running up the stairs with "eye of the tiger" playing in the background. He also impart tips to the national athlete on mental preparation and also what sets him apart from the other during his time.

He noted that he studied all his opponents.He knows how each of them perform. Their best points and their weakness. In short, he did his homework. While many said that he was arrogant in 1984 about predicting that he will win 4 gold medals. He shut them up by doing exactly that. There was no turning back since and he has collected 10 Olympic medals of which 9 were Gold between 1984-1996 Olympic. He has 10 World Championship medals, of which 8 were Gold. He was also one of the only three Olympian to had won the same event (long jump) four times.

Choose Your Best Sports.
Carl was noted to be an athlete with many talents. While he was made famous because of the 100m event, his real favorite is long jump. His mum was a long jumper as well and when he was growing up, a biography did mentioned that he (third child of four siblings) was spunky and was small size. He practiced long jump behind the house and that has paid off when he went to high school.

During the session this morning, Carl did re-affirmed that his favorite sports is long jump. He reckon the long jumper has a good chance to be a good sprinter and not the other way around. In fact, he advised one of the national athlete to do just that. Choose your favorite event and excel in it.

Now, putting things into perspective for me as a wannabe triathlete, i would had choose cycling as my favorite. Most of my "run" are actually "walk" by the time i get off the bike anyway. But i know that to be really good in triathlon, you have to be a runner first, as many races are won during the running league.
10meter=Your Top Speed.
An athlete asked how do Carl keep his concentration and power during the last portion of the 100m or 200m run. Carl then asked the question of how long could a human hold top speed and the answer was 10meters or 1 second. He then went to share his strategy when he race as he allow himself to pick up speed from 0m to 60m, then he will be at full speed between 60 to 70m and all he need to do is to maintain that to the end.

He shared why he was different from the others as his friends and competitors and it all make sense. Strategize.
I Do Not Want Will Smith To Act As Me.
Pueh Tian asked the question on which actor will Carl like to play him, if his life was made into a movie. Carl said jokingly that he do not want the Fresh Prince to be him. His reason was that he want someone new to play him and that would propel this someone's career and he would be famous. He also said that it is important to have that chap to be good looking (like him), lean(like him) and must know how to RUN!.

This chap is an entertainer. I believe everyone agrees!

I have two videos of him sharing some advices that i will upload to YouTube when i get higher bandwidth. Once i have uploaded it, i will post it in my blog.

The session was wrapped up after two journalists asked some questions which i don't think reflect very well of their knowledge of Carl Lewis as an athlete. I was sad and a bit irritated to hear those questions that if you ask me, does not reflect their vocation. I wish they were more like Tey where a journalist with passion for running and the sports will ask better questions.
As for myself, i did not get to ask any of my 10 questions i prepared. But i converted one of my question and told him how i watched him ran against Ben Johnson, came in second, but he was the real winner in my heart back in 88.

I was again, starstruck; in a very good way.


  1. Thanks for the post. It was great.

    I still remember his olympic run which i watch it on TV with friends after school.

  2. Nice on bro! Glad you could make it!

  3. MemOfHome - :D So are you. Juggling work and kids is not easy!

  4. Very cool! Its definitely a historic moment to meet him.