Blazing Kim Collins Says 40 is Just a Number

OSLO, June 8, 2016 (AFP) -Kim Collins is an unusual athlete on the global sprint circuit, setting a personal best over the 100m this season at the venerable age of 40.

While most sprinters peak in their late 20s, Collins made his debut for St Kitts andNevis way back at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, his career highlight the 100m gold at the 2003 world championships in Paris .

Collins has appeared in four Olympics and nine world champs, even featuring on a set of St Kitts and Nevis stamps.

But he was controversially axed by his Caribbean island nation at the 2012 LondonOlympics after an unsanctioned meeting with his wife in the British capital.

That has not diminished his desire to compete, especially after becoming, at the age of 40 years and 54 days, the first sprinter over 40 to break the 10-second barrier when he bettered his own national record to 9.93sec at a meet in Bottrop, Germany, in May.

And Collins hasn’t even got the same excuse used by controversial in-form American Justin Gatlin , who said his second doping ban, between 2006-10, had been both a curse and blessing because it had in fact saved him four hard years of competitive running and allowed him to blossom into his mid-30s.

“As I was approaching 40 I was a little bit scared, but when it came it was like ‘bring it on’,” Collins said ahead of Thursday’s Diamond League meet in OSLO .

“It really meant nothing being 40 because I felt better then than when I was 21 years old. Running a personal best at 40 is amazing.

“So far as this season has been progressing, it’s being going extremely well. Not just running fast but being able to compete well, at least making the top three, at worst top four.”

Collins will come up against up-and-coming Canadian Andre De Grasse and American hope Ameer Webb in the Norwegian capital over 100m.

“I’m happy to be here in Oslo and competing against these young lads,” he joked.

“Most of the time the young guys beat me, they run personal bests, hint hint…!”

Turning to the Rio Olympics, Collins was phlegmatic given his run-in with his country’s track and field officials in London four years ago.

“Selection is on the qualifying time, which I have. The next step is to go to the trials and win them,” he said.

“So we have one step covered and another step we have to achieve and then the selection should be coming… by law.”

When quizzed on his potential build-up to Rio, Collins replied, deadpan: “Training camps are not my thing, it’s just judging when I get there before my races.

“I’m looking to bounce back. After my personal best, the body went down.

“These young fellahs are coming to get me and I’m doing everything I can so they don’t get me.”

His aim for the 100m at the Bislett Games, coming two days after Frenchman JimmyVicaut set a new world lead of 9.86sec, was simple.

“I want to go below 9.90, so 9.89.”

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