Former Tennessee sprinter Christian Coleman prepares for track world championships, facing Usain Bolt
LONDON — Christian Coleman's career record against Usain Bolt: 0-0.
The University of Tennessee product who recently turned pro could actually end up in very rare company — a sprinter with a winning mark against the Jamaican great. That would involve Coleman pulling off the improbable — impossible? — in Bolt's final 100-meter race at the world championships. The semifinals and final are Saturday.
Coleman is one of the few who could challenge Bolt, especially with Andre De Grasse of Canada withdrawing because of a hamstring injury. Coleman finished in 10.01 seconds Friday, the second-fastest time behind another Jamaican, Julian Forte (9.99). And while Bolt won his heat, his time of 10.07 was eighth overall.
Don't read too much into that, though. Bolt always saves his best for big occasions.
"I have a lot of confidence in myself that I can come out and win," Coleman said. "But you never take anybody for granted. ... Got to make sure I'm on my 'A' game, make sure I'm ready to compete."
The 21-year-old Coleman certainly is getting his name out there. He won the 100 and 200 at the NCAA championships in June. But before that, he made a splash by sprinting 40 yards in 4.12 seconds, then posting video of it after the NFL draft. His time was faster than any football player who ran at the NFL combine.
Fun, though that was a mere sideshow. Sprinting is his game, and Coleman has grown up a big fan of Bolt's. He insisted he's not the least bit intimidated by Bolt, whose presence and 6-foot-5 frame cast a large shadow.
"You can't call yourself the best if you don't go against the best," Coleman said. "I'll be ready to compete. I won't be distracted."
Coleman doesn't rattle easily, something his coach in college learned early on.
"We call him 'Cool-man,' instead of Coleman," said Tim Hall, an assistant at Tennessee. "Because his temperament is always even in terms of focusing on the things he wants to accomplish. He's been able to apply those things to his daily practice sessions. You see the results when he's on the track."