Gardener struggles to explain the mystery of Lewis-Francis
OLYMPIC gold medallist Jason Gardener admits he can't explain why sprinter Mark Lewis-Francis has failed to deliver on the world stage.
HARD WORK: Mark Lewis-Francis is putting in the effort with new coach Linford Christie to renew his career (Getty Images for Aviva)
Lewis-Francis was considered a bigger talent than junior rivals Asafa Powell and Justin Gatlin, after he clocked a time of 9.97 seconds to reach the World Athletics Championships semi-final in 2001.
But despite anchoring Great Britain to Olympic relay gold in 2004, his career has flattered to deceive.
Lewis-Francis, who missed last year's Beijing Olympics with an achilles injury, now trains in London with Linford Christie.
But his season's best, a 10.38 second time at last weekend's IAAF Grand Prix in Madrid, will hardly strike fear into British rivals Dwain Chambers, Simeon Williamson and Craig Pickering ahead of this weekend's Aviva UK Championships in Birmingham.
"Mark has had a difficult time of it recently and I really hope he can bounce back because he was one of the best juniors that the world has ever seen," said four-time European Indoor champion Gardener.
"I think he knows that he hasn't fulfilled the potential that he showed as a junior but you have no God given right to be successful at senior level - that is just athletics.
"I couldn't tell you why he hasn't reached the heights people maybe feel he should have.
"Mark was the best teenager in the world at one point but people keep coming through like Usain Bolt, so it is all about timing and getting things right.
"I'm sure that Mark will look back over his life and say that there were things that he could have done differently but so could everyone and that is part of life."