LONDON (Reuters) - Frankie Fredericks knows all about finishing second at major championships and has a shelf load of silver medals to prove it.
The Namibian, therefore, can sympathise with the sprinters trying to dethrone Usain Bolt at this year’s world championships in South Korea and at the 2012 London Olympics.
Speaking inside the Olympic Stadium, astride a chalk line on the tarmac that indicates where the 100 metres finish line will be once the track is rolled out, Fredericks said Bolt would be almost impossible to stop if he fired on all cylinders.
“There are some great challengers out there but I feel sorry for them a bit growing up and being born in the same era as Usain Bolt,” the 43-year-old told Reuters after a ceremony to mark the completion of the stadium construction.
Fredericks, runner-up over 100 and 200 metres at the Olympics in Barcelona in 1992 and at the Atlanta Games four years later, added: “He is a phenomenal athlete and it’s difficult to think he can be beaten.
“But this is the Olympics and everyone will be gunning for him. I think Asafa Powell will be a threat and Tyson Gay but who knows ... there could be someone come out of the woodwork this year.”
After his world record-shredding feats of 2008 and 2009 when Bolt claimed sprint doubles in Beijing and Berlin, he spent a large chunk of last season becalmed by Achilles problems.
While the Jamaican sprint king is expected to face compatriot Powell in Rome in May, Fredericks said Bolt’s fitness remained a concern.
“You have to eat right, live right and know you can only push your body so far,” said former world champion Fredericks who squeezed every last second from his long career.
“Usain pushes himself very close to his limits and the danger is when you go over that. I hope Usain can manage himself over the next few years and enjoy a long career.
“If he does he can run 9.4 or 9.5 seconds and I can’t see anyone touching him.”
Fredericks, part of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) delegation inspecting London’s venues this week in his role as chairman of the athletes commission, said British sports fans were in for a treat and hoped Africa would soon stage an Olympics.
“It’s a huge matter of pride to host an Olympics or a major sports event,” said the Namibian.
“I was in South Africa last year for the World Cup soccer and it was amazing what they put together. It was important the world could see Africa putting together something so big.
“I am looking forward to the day us Africans can see a Games on our continent. People have watched African footballers for so long and last year they had a chance to perform at home.
“I was in the stadium watching Ghana and there were 18,000 people cheering for them and it was a great feeling,” added Fredericks.
“But first we have to see which country is able to put up a bid, whether it be South Africa, Nigeria ... Kenya.
“I think we have the bids going out for 2020 and hopefully an African country will put one forward. If not we will have to wait until 2024.”
IOC president Jacques Rogge said last year there was no doubt Africa could host the Olympics for the first time.
The host city for the 2020 Olympics will be decided in 2013.