IAAF Awards: Christian Coleman versus the world

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Christian Coleman at the 2018 Müller Grand Prix in Birmingham. Photo: MV4R Photography

It sometimes feels like Christian Coleman doesn’t get the recognition he deserves.

The 22-year-old was the world leader at 100m in 2017 and in a great place to challenge for a global medal. Which he did, grabbing silver in the 100m final at his young age.

But unfortunately he was also caught up in the focus on the Bolt vs Gatlin rivalry, which seemed to do the sport more harm than good.

Fortunately for Coleman, his talent is still very much shining through, with his world silver medal being followed up by a 60m indoor world record, before clinching the Diamond Trophy with yet another 100m world lead.

This was even more impressive considering his outdoor season was mostly blighted by injury, with Coleman recovering from both his physical and mental struggles to finish this season in the same way he did the previous one.

The fact that he is still one of the strong contenders for Male World Athlete of the Year at the IAAF Awards says a lot about the sheer talent Coleman has stored in his arsenal, as well as his mental strength to come back to big things.

But it hasn’t been straight-forward. He spoke to Athletics Weekly about “sitting out and not training…during a season where you’ve got guys running fast and you’re watching all these races with American athletes in”.

That this year has seen new talent like Noah Lyles and Ronnie Baker truly come to the fore works against Coleman, who in some respects has struggled to catch a break.

His superb achievement of a world silver medal last season at the age of just 21 was tossed to the side in the whole Bolt and Gatlin frenzy, with Coleman having only one question put to him in the post-race press conference.

Now, after breaking a world record and winning the Diamond Trophy, Coleman has claimed himself that despite all those achievements he still has “a lot to prove”.

Perhaps the one thing the world record holder is lacking right now is ‘star quality’. While previous sprint king Usain Bolt had charisma and confidence in abundance, Christian Coleman has a quieter demeanour.

But Bolt set such a character precedent on and off the track that it’s unreasonable to expect other sprinters – even the world’s fastest man – to have such a ‘star status’.

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How much personality is needed to become a true sporting great? Now there’s a debate to be had.

With Coleman now taking extra measures to look after his body and continuing to develop his ability in the sport, he’s surely set to become one of track and field’s main men.

There’s a mouthwatering battle in sight with world and Olympic titles up for grabs in the next eighteen months, and if in shape, he’ll be more than just a part of the conversation.

Read other articles profiling the IAAF Athletics Awards nominees including Caterine Ibarguen and Tomas Walsh here. See full shortlists here.

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