Tue | Feb 25, 2020

Mills: Blake in far better shape

Published:Sunday | July 1, 2012 | 12:00 AM

André Lowe, Senior Staff Reporter

A shake of the head and disappointment stapled across his face; a miserable looking Usain Bolt walked off the National Stadium track on Friday evening and, like most of the 20,000 or so fans inside the venue was still in shock at what had transpired.

A congratulatory message to women's 100m champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce in the mixed zone was followed by a flood of microphones and tape recorders, something Bolt is quite accustomed to.

However, the triple Olympic champion and world-record holder is less familiar with losing, but he was given a surprising reminder by world champion Yohan Blake in the 100m final at the JAAA/ Supreme Ventures Limited National Senior Championships, and he clearly didn't like it.

Prior to Friday night, Bolt, since he became a world star, had only lost a 100m race to two men, Asafa Powell in 2008 and Tyson Gay in 2010 and he had never lost on local soil but Blake, who powered to a stadium record and personal-best 9.75, was not interested in reading the script - catapulting himself as the fourth-fastest man in history behind the other three men mentioned.

Bolt was among the first to congratulate Blake, who has graduated from his protégé to perhaps his main contender. He, however, knows where it went wrong for him on this occasion.

"He (Blake) is a class runner without a doubt, and I have been saying that over the years that he is one of the best and he will continue to be one of the best," said Bolt of Blake.

"When you get left in the blocks in a field with this kind of quality, it is always going to be difficult to get back," he added.

He did manage to get back somewhat, recovering from fifth position or so after the first few strides to finish in second place in 9.86 behind Blake, 9.75, and in front of Asafa Powell, 9.88.

Blake, who was not able to speak to the media after the race was clearly elated, but so was sprinting technician Glen Mills - the man who conditions both Blake and Bolt, and as far as he is concerned, both athletes are right where they need to be with the Olympic Games just four weeks away.

"We are right where we want to be going into London, we just want to keep them (Bolt and Blake) healthy; and that's the key going into London," said Mills. "We have a strategy, we didn't send Yohan to Europe so he is in far better shape than Bolt at this particular time, but we have four weeks and we'll take it in stride. Everything will fall into place and we know what to do."

Blake, Mills explained, is in far better shape than Bolt at this time due to his scheduling, but as far as he is concerned, there is little reason to worry about the big Jamaican, who he expects to be ready when it really matters.

"No, I am not surprised about his (Blake) performance because I'm training him, I can't be surprised, this is what I am coaching him for," Mills said. "I am not surprised by Bolt either, he is not 100 per cent but he is good enough to compete. We will do some work on him and get him ready for the 200m, but he is a tough cookie and will be all right."

Mills went on to point out that Blake will not be attempting any heroics in the 200m and will just be looking to book a lane in London.

"He (Blake) will just be running the 200m to qualify and get to London because after the intensity of the 100m final, we are just going to take it easy and qualify; no heroics," Mills said.