Linford Christie says Craig Pickering is under too much pressure to become the first white man to break the 10-second barrier for the 100m.
Christie (left) holds the British 100m record of 9.87secs
Pickering, 20, is Britain's number one sprinter but Christie says the media are expecting too much of him.
"I don't think they realise how much pressure they are putting the poor guy under," said the 1992 Olympic champion.
"It doesn't matter whether you are black or white. It's not about colour, it's about talent."
Pickering has been in impressive form so far this season, clocking a personal best time of 10.16secs.
If they nurture him that way and let him go on and progress the way he should, I think the sky is the limit for him
That is still well adrift of Christie's British record of 9.87secs, set at the 1993 World Championships.
But Christie, now 47, thinks Pickering can improve.
"If they nurture him that way and let him go on and progress the way he should, I think the sky is the limit for him," said Christie, who won 23 medals in his career, more than any other British male athlete before or since.
Christie also warned against labelling Pickering the 'Great White Hope', which he says could have an adverse effect on him and his status among the British team.
"It causes a lot of problems with the other black athletes on the team," said Christie, who was appointed MBE in 1990 and OBE in 1998.