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'Big Man' Yohan back on home soil

Published:Tuesday | September 20, 2011 | 12:00 AM
World champion sprinter Yohan Blake speaks with Prime Minister Bruce Golding at Jamaica House shortly after his arrival at the Norman Manley International Airport in Kingston yesterday. - Winston Sill/Freelance Photographer

André Lowe, Senior Staff Reporter

"Big man." Prime Minister Bruce Golding enters the room and greets newly crowned 100m World championand the second-fastest man over 200m, Yohan Blake, like they're old friends.

Slightly surprised, but not missing a beat, Blake responds with an extended arm.

The Jamaica House stop was the last in a whirlwind two hours for the former St Jago High School student who was making his return to the island after spending the last two months in Europe and Asia in training and competition, climaxing with his 9.92-seconds run which secured his place in history as the youngest-ever 100m World champion at 21 years old.

"You have done so well," Golding continued as the two sat in front of a small group of Jamaica House staffers and media representatives.

"I am over the moon!" Blake responded. That phrase is quickly becoming his tag line.

"I knew you were good, but I didn't know that you were this good," Golding admitted. "Usain (Bolt) better watch out."

Good advice, Mr Prime Minister.

Blake's surprise 19.26 seconds clocking in his last run at the Brussels Diamond League meet in Belgium last week is bettered only by Bolt's 19.19 world-record run from two years ago at the Berlin World Championships.

Sprinting 'Beast'

Additionally, with 9.82 seconds over 100m under his belt despite one of the worst starts in world sprinting, Blake, a recipient of the Prime Minister's Award earlier this year, has indeed become the sprinting 'Beast' he fancies himself to be.

"Years ago, I was at the stadium and Howard Aris mentioned your name," Golding continued to Blake. "It was a long time ago and it didn't mean much to me, but look how prophetic he (Aris) was."

The prime minister asked: "You haven't peaked yet?"

The youngster promised: "It's just the beginning."

Golding added: "Congratulations! You have made Jamaica proud. We expect great things from you, and (Sports) Minister (Olivia) Grange will advise me as to the type of support that we can provide because your success is Jamaica's pride."

Earlier, Blake met briefly with Grange at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston, where she expressed her confidence in him while lauding his achievements.

"I have a soft spot for Yohan and have always felt that he is a special athlete, having followed his career since he was a student at St Jago," said Grange. "I knew Yohan would make it (gold medal) happen."

If you have ever wondered what Blake's finger gesture, which he makes before the start of each race, means, he explained:

"It's just my way to tell the other guys (in the race) that their engines are small," he said with a laugh.

andre.lowe@gleanerjm.com