Portugal Colonial - 'Resilient' Coleman returns from ban at Millrose Games

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'Resilient' Coleman returns from ban at Millrose Games
'Resilient' Coleman returns from ban at Millrose Games

'Resilient' Coleman returns from ban at Millrose Games

World 100 meters champion Christian Coleman makes his return to athletics after a two-year absence on Saturday, determined to "have fun" after the anti-doping suspension that forced him to miss last year's Olympic Games.

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The 25-year-old sprinter heads a star-studded field at the Millrose Games indoor meet in New York, where he will race in a high quality 60m that also includes world 200m champion Noah Lyles.

It is the first major event Coleman has raced since February 2020, and his first appearance since serving an 18-month suspension for breaching anti-doping whereabouts rules.

Coleman, who in all probability would have been the favorite for the 100m at the Tokyo Olympics last year had it not been for his suspension, says he is grateful to be finally getting his career back on track this weekend.

"I feel like I learned a lot about myself," he told AFP on Friday when asked about his absence from competition.

"I feel like I learned a lot about life in general, you know, what's the most important things in life. I learned how to separate me as a person from me on the track, and how resilient I am.

"I'm just proud of myself for getting back to this point and grateful to be here and to compete going forward. I'm looking forward to the next few years, it's going to be pretty exciting."

In addition to his world 100m crown, Coleman is also the reigning world indoor 60m champion after winning gold at the 2018 World Championships in Birmingham.

He also holds the world record over the distance of 6.34sec, though Coleman said Friday he is not targeting times this weekend.

"I try not to focus on times," he said. "I don't want to be disappointed if I don't run a certain time.

"I just want to get out there and compete and try to win... You get out there and compete and when you're a competitor the times come with it."

- 'No pressure' -

Coleman, who is hoping to compete at this year's world indoor championships in Belgrade in March before defending his title at the outdoor world championships, taking place in Eugene, Oregon in July, says he has been encouraged by times clocked in training.

"We just started to do more speed training, like a month or so," he said. "I've got some good momentum coming into this meet. I feel pretty good.

"I've been hitting some good times in practice. So I'm excited to get out there and compete again and see where I end up... have some fun and see what the clock says."

While his presence in the field in New York this weekend will make him the center of attention, Coleman says he does not feel any additional pressure on his return.

"I definitely want to win as a competitor," Coleman said. "That's what track and field is about. You want to get to that line first. But I don't necessarily feel any pressure.

"This is the fun part. You put in all the work in the off-season and then you get a chance to compete. Just go and have fun with it and see what happens."

As well as 200m world champion Lyles, Saturday's 60m line-up also includes Trayvon Bromell, the 2016 60m world champion and the fastest man in the world over 100m last year with a personal best of 9.76sec.

Lyles, meanwhile, is looking forward to competing in front of fans this weekend after the disappointment of performing in an empty arena at last year's pandemic-postponed Tokyo Olympics.

"It was just dead silent in that stadium," Lyles said Friday of his Olympic experience.

"All I could think of was 'Wow, this is my first Olympics and I can't even have a crowd.' They would barely even let athletes come to watch their teammates. It was a bummer."