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Neeraj Chopra will inspire, but India has to be patient: Colin Jackson | More sports News

KOLKATA: Colin Jackson is one of the greatest athletes to not have won an Olympic gold, although the former 110m hurdler has been a world champions multiple times, a world record holder and has innumerable titles under his belt. The cricketer-turned athlete, though, has no regrets.
“It wasn’t meant to be,” the Welshman, in the city for a sporting event, told TOI on Thursday.The silver in Seoul, 1988, was his best result inOlympic Games, although he participated in three more. He started as the favourite in all of them, but injuries ended his hopes. “That’s how athletics is, you have to accept it.” Jackson hit the headlines again much after retirement when he came out as gay.
Excerpts from an interview:
Why did you leave cricket to make a career in athletics?
There are quite a few reasons, but the most compelling would be racism. I was 15, playing for Glamorgan and was the cricket captain of my school team. They were taking us for Welsh national team trials. Four got picked and I was not among them. I understood that it was because of colour of my skin. I decided that I would be in a sport where, if I cross the line first, I get selected.
This is your second visit to India. How do you find the interest in India for athletics?
I think our sport is very new in this country, in a way in its infancy. India as a country has so much potential. The only way this potential can be tapped is by people seeing champions. When they do that, they start thinking, ‘this person looks like me. I too can be a sportsperson and it is well accepted.’ They start believing in themselves and if there are opportunities for them, it makes a big difference.
India has recently found a role model in Neeraj Chopra. Do such role models help in the long run?
Yes, of course. Here you have someone people can look up to. But you have to remember that you are competing with countries that have established track and field stars for centuries. How will you compete with them straight away? There is no instant turn on. Once you have the consistency in producing superstars, then only the sport will develop at the grassroots level. Jamaica has a history of great sprinters now, but they had their first in Herb McKenley in 1952. So, we cannot expect results overnight. We have to be patient.
Do you see a role for yourself in developing athletics in India?
That would be wonderful, because there is talent here. Maybe have a creative school with a pool of people and think and work like me. Take it around like a travelling circus where people can touch on excellence and then don’t leave them alone, not just for athletes but also for coaches. Because once I leave, someone has to take over.
You have also spoken on a lot of social issues and have also coming out as gay. Have you faced any obstacles?
No. It is how you say things. I always say you must genuinely pick your battles. We have to stand up against discrimination, whether it is race or anything else. Have always tried to ensure that it (being gay) is never a talking point.
This is your first visit to Kolkata. How has it been?
So far so good. It has been exciting for me, seeing the buzzling city. It has been fantastic. I came to India for the first time in 2018 and we based ourselves in New Delhi.

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