Anastasia Cunningham, Senior Gleaner Writer
Chatter among the Jamaican public is pushing rising sprint sensation Yohan Blake as 'the real big man' after a remarkable effort in the IAAF Diamond League in Switzerland yesterday, but sports analysts are cautioning that Asafa Powell is still a strong contender who should never be overlooked.
At the IAAF meet in Zurich, Blake beat Powell in the men's 100-metre in a personal-best time of 9.82 seconds, topping his World Championships time of 9.92 just days ago in Daegu, South Korea. Powell finished second in 9.95.
"Asafa need to retire now," said a user under the moniker Jayce Green on The Gleaner's Facebook page shortly after the race.
"I am happy Yohan 'the Zohan' won! Who is the big man now? And I get the feeling of late that the softa only run for money!" declared another Facebook user under the name Pauline Irie Edie.
"I think it's a good race, but the better one come first ... . Yohan a di boss," said another user called Chidz Hypnotiq.
But while hailing Blake as a definite force the world will now have to pay serious attention to, sporting figures Raymond 'KC' Graham, Juliet Cuthbert, Earl Bailey and Hubert Lawrence all agreed Powell has not lost his relevance because he still holds the fastest time this year of 9.78. They believe he competed yesterday simply to win the Diamond League trophy.
"It is good for Yohan as a young person to come out on top at the World Championships and then, a couple of days after, to prove to the world that this really was not a fluke and he ran even faster. This is saying a lot for Yohan Blake," stated athletics coach Graham.
"But I don't think Asafa tried. He had to run this race to win the overall Diamond League. If he did not compete in this event, he would not have won the Diamond League, but I don't think he went all out," Graham added.
"I would like to see a fit Asafa and a fit Yohan. But you have to give Yohan credit because he ran 9.82; but at the same time, I don't want to take away anything from Asafa. Asafa is coming from an injury. He went out and started well, but in the last 10 to 20 metres he held back because he was looking across to see. I think the objective for Asafa in this event was to compete and not be competitive."
In Graham's view, Asafa can run 9.70 if he puts his mind to it.
"This is not the last of Asafa. He has many, many more years in him. I think he will now be more motivated for next year because now he has two challenges, Usain Bolt and Yohan Blake, from an opposing club," Graham noted.
Hailing Blake as the man of the moment, sports analyst Bailey said Powell was not the force he was a month ago.
Agreeing that Powell turned up for the race to fulfil a contractual arrangement, he felt his groin injury might have also been a factor.
"I thought he tried to win, but Yohan was the better man," stated Bailey.
He said that what this does is to create dual rivalries of Bolt/Tyson Gay and Powell/Blake.
"Blake has thrown himself into the mix when it comes to the elite sprinters now. He can now command bigger fees for his races. This is definitely a defining moment for him because whereas last week in the World Championships, although he won the race, a lot of people would say he won by default because Bolt did not run."
He continued: "But on this occasion, he won going away. He won in a personal best and he beat the fastest man in the world this year. So this will go a far way in bolstering his confidence and ego. This is someone now you have to pay attention to."
In Lawrence's opinion, it was a win-win for Jamaica, earning the first and second place. However, "9.82 is very fast for young Blake".
Lawrence believes the 100m at next year's National Trials, which serve as a test meet for the Olympic team, will be the "race you've got to see".
"To me, the World Champs was the defining moment for Blake. For him to have kept his composure just after Bolt false-started exactly beside him, for him to keep his head together in those conditions is remarkable for someone just 21."
He added: "The 9.82 victory and the time validate the World Champs because, had things gone slightly different, the results in Daegu may have been slightly different. Blake is definitely among the top sprinters in the world, no shadow of a doubt."
Meanwhile, Cuthbert does not agree with the view that Powell was injured.
"It looked like he just stopped running and watched Blake after he passed him. He just dropped his shoulders, stopped moving his arms and let his momentum take him to the finish line," she said.
"In my opinion, with the rocket start that he got, groin injury wasn't a factor in the race."
At any rate, she said, what matters is that Blake was the victor and his money and fees will now go up.
"He is now the man that they will be after, over an Asafa Powell. It will be him and Usain Bolt that the meets are going to actually try to get," the Olympian argued.
She said going forward, the many "what ifs" will play a factor. Many wondering what would be the result of a Blake-Bolt matchup, "but as far as a Bolt/Asafa, I don't think it is going to be a big deal at all".
It was a great race! I'm not sure if Asafa was ready for this race though! During the entire World Championships, he was suffering from an injury, so he shouldn't have ran this race. However, he started the race quite well and if he had pushed a little harder, he could have won. Congrats to Mr Blake; he is doing great! He is now the 'Big Man' everyone is talking about! Personally, I believe we have the best sprinters in the world and I'm sure it's going to be like that for years to come.
Well done, Yohan. You are definitely the new kid on the block. For the sake of the sport, you should stay away from racing against Usain until someone put some serious money on the table.
Revilo Fiic Green
Asafa has incredible talent, but has not done very much with it. Ain't nothing great about that ... . He needs to perform when it countzzz!
Shayne 'Popy Stephen' Fairman
Yohan Blake is vastly improving and, at the moment, quite a consistent, enthusiastic and disciplined performer. Hence, this and likewise other performances! Well done, Yohan.
All the best to Asafa! Most people don't make a name for themselves by winning everything ... it is by defeat and rising above that a true winner is made! Always and will forever rate Powell ... all the best to Blake! Jamaicans shouldn't be the first to jump and be so criticial ... . Asafa has done many things to help put the Jamaican brand in the athletics field, as well as other athletes before him.
With all that is surrounding Asafa, I did not know what to expect, but I expected Yohan Blake to rip the track a part! That he did.