Forced to drop out of the World Championships and end his season with a hamstring injury, Carl Lewis promises to come back with a memorable Olympic season next year.
Winner of eight gold medals and 10 in all at the previous four world championships, the 34-year-old American star announced Sunday that he was pulling out of this year's competition."This is it for the season," said Lewis, who injured his left hamstring competing in the long jump at the Olympic Festival at Colorado Springs, Colo., eight days ago.
"A year like this motivates me. I am going to have a season next year that will surprise everyone," Lewis said.
This year will be quickly forgotten.
Lewis failed to qualify for the U.S. team in the 100-meter sprint, but he did make it to the World Championships the long jump. But there were no notable performances this year from Lewis, who also has won eight Olympic gold medals in his distinguished career.
Lewis said he felt he could run, but decided not to help the injury-decimated U.S. 400-meter relay team on the advice of his coach, Tom Tellez.
"I just finished a workout and my leg feels a lot better. But I talked to Coach Tellez about how I feel now and I'm not going to compete at all.
"I would have loved to long jump, but it be risking injury that would ruin my chances for next year. He's my coach; I respect his decision.
"I feel pretty good. I want to run. I'm emotional, that's me," Lewis said. "Coach Tellez thinks it would be putting too much strain on the leg. Just to say I'll wing it, that won't fly.
"It's a tough decision but it's the right decision."
With Lewis unavailable, the U.S. team has to make more changes to the 400 relay squad.
Because world record holder Leroy Burrell and Andre Cason failed to qualify for the championships through the U.S. trials, they hoped to rely on Dennis Mitchell, Jon Drummond, Maurice Greene and Mike Marsh, who set a world's best for the year of 38.25 seconds at Monte Carlo two weeks ago.
But Mitchell pulled up with a leg muscle injury barely 50 meters into his first 100 meters heat and will take no further part in the championships.
That threw open the possibility of asking Michael Johnson, who is going for an unprecedented 200-400 double as well as the 1,600 relay, to increase his championship workload.
But U.S. relay coach Ron Bazil ruled out calling up Johnson.
"No possibility whatsoever of Johnson," he said.
Bazil said Johnson had enough on his hands trying to win the double, and said adding another race would not be in Johnson's best interest.
The coach said the top four picks for the relay were Greene, Drummond, Marsh and Tony McCall, with 200-meter runner Jeff Williams also available.
"Maybe not in that order, but that's the four we are thinking of right now," Bazil said.
Drummond said he would love to run the anchor leg.