Carl Lewis first learned about Sri Chinmoy from music producer Narada Michael Walden and his wife, Anukampa, two of Sri Chinmoy’s students. In October 1983, Narada interviewed the champion athlete and sent the tape recording to Sri Chinmoy as a gift. Excerpts from that tape recording follow.
Narada: Would you like to tell Sri Chinmoy something about the video of his running that you saw recently?
Carl Lewis: For inspiration and determination I use the challenge of perfecting the best in myself. Of course, in athletics that just comes from repeated practice. I saw some of your starts the other day and I thought they looked really good. The way you are going to get faster is to just keep working hard at it and wanting to do it. So many people have the capacity to be fast, but they all fall short because they do not want to work at it hard enough. But you also have to make sure that you do not overwork in your running. And if you ever feel tired, take a rest. If you ever feel you are not as excited on a certain day, just take a break — because there’s always a reason.
Narada: What were you saying about how important it is to keep the hips above the feet?
Carl Lewis: In sprinting you want to have your centre of gravity over your feet. The thing that you want to do is to stand flat and straight, then rise on your toes, send your hips forward and just run off. That’s the idea you want. You want to get your hips over your feet. You do that by shooting them in. Then, of course, your upper body will just follow. You want your hands to swing up to your face in front and then your arm to go back just a little bit. Those are the mechanical concepts of sprinting, the easiest things.
Narada: Is there any advice for someone who has a weak lower back?
Carl Lewis: I myself have lower back problems. I always have to stretch before and after I compete. Easy, slow sit-ups are good for backs — very slow and very easy. You don’t have to do very many just so long as you do them consistently — even if you do only 20 or 30 a day, three times a week. It’s not very much, but it helps activate the muscles in the back and gets your stomach muscles stronger so they can support the back. That’s the main thing with back problems: the stomach muscles a lot of times are not strong enough to support the back.
Narada: Is God personal or impersonal to you?
Carl Lewis: I feel He has reached down and touched my head, and brought me along and paved my way. Even before I felt God in a personal way, I can look back and see that He was paving my way. it’s as though He kind of reaches down and touches me, and turns me this way and that way, or says, “Slow down!” or “Stop!” That’s why I feel Him to be really personal.
Narada: What do you think about spiritual names?
Carl Lewis: I have been thinking so much about this, especially since all weekend I've been with you and your wife, Anukampa. Anukampa was saying last night that she feels it keeps her so positive. I think it would keep me positive and proud as well. My parents gave me the name ‘Carl’, but I think that a spiritual name is something I would really like. There’s no question that I'd really cherish it because it would be something that was given directly to me at a time when I could feel it.