September 29 - The greatest sprinter of the 1970s has offered Usain Bolt advice on how to improve his starts.
Valeriy Borzov, the Soviet athlete who won the sprint double at the 1972 Olympics in Munich and is now an International Olympic Committee (IOC) member, told insidethegames in an interview that the Jamaican six-time Olympic champion should "change his start position".
The Ukrainian, who was known throughout his career for his technical mastery, also said he would want to check what Bolt was thinking about when in the set position and waiting for the gun.
"When I was in the set position, I was thinking that I was running already," Borzov explained.
The three-time European 100 metres champion spelt out in detail how his own starting technique and speed of reaction were perfected in repeated coaching drills, honing the senses of touch, sight and hearing.
In training, a coach would take up position behind Borzov, ready in his start position, and ask him to begin running as soon as he heard a noise.
He would then create a sound by, for example, dropping a coin onto a metallic surface.
Said Borzov: "I practice five, 10, 15, 20 times."
The coach would then move to a place where the sprinter could see the coin and ask him to start just as the coin hit the hard surface.
Finally, he would touch Borzov, still in his start position, anywhere on the body, instructing him to set off the moment he felt the slightest contact.
After such training, Borzov said, "When you are starting for real, you learn to switch on all three senses.
"Plus you imagine you are already running.
"That was the mental programme for professional athletes.
"I did not have a single false-start in my life.
"It was like having a chip in my head."
Some journalists, he remembered, called him "the computer sprinter".
Borzov also said that rather than simply running to the finishing-line, he made a point of running through the line towards a point in the stands.
"It's a big, big difference," he said.
Though he has a perfect record in the past two Olympics, winning three gold medals at each, Bolt famously false-started at the 2011 World Championships in Daegu, and was, as a consequence, disqualified from the 100m.
While the Jamaican's world record stands at 9.58sec, Borzov never broke 10 seconds for the 100m.
As the Ukrainian explained in an extensive interview, however, his priority was winning titles, not setting records.
He realised, moreover, that if he ran flat out, he increased the chances of sidelining himself with a pulled muscle.
To read full interview click here.
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