Sri Chinmoy hosts a special function to honour Sudhahota Carl Lewis and his sister Carol at Progress-Promise in Jamaica, Queens, New York.
Sri Chinmoy requests questions from his students:
Question: Are you aware of the other competitors in a race as short as 55 metres, or do you just run as fast as you can?
Sudhahota: I’m aware of them being there, but I’m just trying to go as fast as I can. Those races are so short that you can’t make any mistakes. You have to be aware of the competition so that, if you’re behind, you can make quick adjustments. In the 100 I wouldn’t try to make adjustments; I’d just run my own race. But if I’m behind in the 55 metres, I may do this or that because I don’t have much time to waste.
Question: Carol, do you and your brother help each other at meets?
Carol Lewis: Sometimes we help each other. But since our coach travels with us everywhere, we usually leave everything to him. But if he’s not with us, we’ll help each other when we compete by looking out for little things. When we go some place we’ll jog together and do things like that, but when you get out there into the competition, it just has to be you yourself.
Question: Carol, could you tell us about your Olympic experiences — what you enjoyed most?
Carol Lewis: I had a really good time meeting the athletes from the other countries. I had a sprained ankle going into the Games, and I just wanted to have a good experience. I knew that I was young enough to compete again some other time. I didn’t compete very well there, but I wasn’t really upset because I tried the best I could and that’s all I could do.
Sri Chinmoy: Last time you helped your brother in the long jump. You were holding the take-off board. This time where were you?
Carol Lewis: This time they used a hammer and nails to keep it down. Last time they didn’t think they’d need that, and Carl didn’t think it would slide as much as it did. So I decided to hold it just in case. Better safe than sorry!
Sudhahota: It was kind of fun! Carol and I came to the meet, and Carol said, “I want to hold the board again.”
Carol Lewis: I wanted to get in the newspaper. I wanted to get some press, so I said I’d hold the board.
Sri Chinmoy: This time, why were you in such a hurry in your long jump? Last time you were concentrating and invoking the spirit and all that. But this time you were in a hurry at the start.
Sudhahota: After the Olympics and all the travelling I did last year, I didn’t really get into the indoor season. That’s why I wanted to cut it off early and get ready for outdoors.
Sri Chinmoy: You can’t concentrate on anything at Madison Square Garden. When you started running, the pole vaulter also started running — disturbing you. It was like a five-ring circus! The competitors can’t concentrate and the spectators can’t enjoy. Your starting has improved a lot. In previous years your starts were just a little slow, but with your tremendous speed you went ahead of the others anyway. Now you don’t have that problem at all.
Sudhahota: I’ve been working extra on my starts. For the last year and a half, I hadn’t taken very many gun starts in practice. This year I have been practising more gun starts, and I think that has helped.
Sri Chinmoy: Now that you have won four gold medals, which was your goal, do you feel that it has given you more inner and outer confidence? Or has it added more pressure on you to maintain the highest height? When you run with your colleagues, do you get more confidence at the starting block because you have won, or more worries and anxieties?
Sudhahota: For me it has opened a whole new positive thing. Winning those four medals was something that I had wanted to achieve all my life. When you set a goal for yourself and achieve it, you feel, “That’s done, so what’s the next one?” Every new goal that I achieve makes me feel more confident that I can achieve the next goal I set. So I just keep going and setting higher and more challenging goals.
Question: Have you ever had an incredible jump in practice that you know would have broken the record if it had been for real?
Sudhahota: When we train, we don’t put the approach and the jump together, so that couldn’t happen. There was one meet last year where I think I beat the world record, but I fouled. Before that, there was one other meet where I put a jump past the world record, but I fouled then too. So in meets I’ve done it, but because of little mistakes the jumps were disqualified. It’s a very, very small mistake — one inch in 50 metres — that I have to correct. It’s a challenge to work it out.
Question: What athletes do you admire in track and field today?
Carol Lewis: (Joking) I was going to say me, but…
Sudhahota: That goes without saying! I admire all of them because it’s such hard work whether you’re a great athlete or not. I admire the very idea of trying to be the best you can be. This I admire rather than the person. Evelyn Ashford, for example, I admire very much because she works so hard. This year she won an Olympic gold medal and was able to defeat her arch-rival despite suffering an injury last year. I admire the struggle, the desire, the training and the working to come to that moment when you run the best race you can.
Sri Chinmoy: When you run, is there a little gap between your fingers or do you hold them tight?
Sudhahota: I leave them just a little open to keep them relaxed. So my fingers move around a little bit when I run.
Sri Chinmoy: It was so nice and kind of you to wear our T-shirt at Madison Square Garden. So, with all my heart’s loving joy and gratitude I am giving you these T-shirts. (Presenting a cake) And this is for yesterday’s victory. (Presenting cake to Carol) This is our heart’s gift.
Published in Carl Lewis: The Champion Inner Runner, part 2