Carl Lewis on the Olympics
"What I really want to see is America send a clean team to the games."
Or Mary Decker stumbling to finish the marathon.
That's what it's about — the sport's lost that. And to me, that's what's going to bring track and field back. Not times, not performances, but people who are clean and have a lot of heart. With the team that I coach, I try to teach them integrity, respect, and also how to speak properly. I'm in a unique situation because the athletes can't tell me, 'I'm all that' because you know what, I already won nine. It's hard work and discipline. The athlete that has the biggest heart is the one that's going to stand out in the Olympics. No matter what country they're from.
You say track's hit rock bottom, how do you clean it up?
I'm not a genius, but I think I know what the deal is. We no longer fund physical education in schools. Everyone knows that you learn the most amazing lessons playing as a kid. When I was a kid, we used to do pickup games or whatever. We'd fight like cats and dogs and the next day we were best friends. We solved problems. Kids don't interact, they don't play. Therefore, they're not participating in sports and they don't learn the lessons of sports — teamwork, dedication, hard work. I took a baton from people in the Olympics I couldn't stand. But, you know what? For those few minutes, they were my best friends. Ultimately, our relationship was changed because we had to work together. Every child in America needs physical education, they need exercise, they need breakfast. If we did that, trust me, there would be a dramatic change in drug use and everything else because kids would learn ethics and competition and that would stick with them the rest of their lives.
You look like you're still in pretty good shape. What do you do to stay fit?
I have a gym at home where I train. I also stay fit through a healthy diet. I do everything. I love to work outside in the yard, and I have two big dogs to keep me busy. I like to cycle, play basketball, and hit tennis balls too. I was raised by two parents who were both coaches, so I participated in just about every sport: swimming, basketball, tennis, whatever. I really believe in actively participating. I think its one of the things we're missing with kids now.