André Lowe, Senior Staff Reporter
'The Beast' is ready to roar
A BIG grin on his face, and 'Eat my dust' plastered across the front of his shirt, a confident Yohan Blake was front and centre, as he declared his intentions; the world 100m champion is ready to rubber stamp his sprinting pedigree at the Olympic Games.
Blake, who, four years ago was at his house in Jamaica cheering on Usain Bolt - a close friend and mentor - as he won gold medals and broke world records at the Beijing Olympics, is today considered in many quarters, the 'man to beat' in London, but the 22-year-old isn't getting carried away, taking it all in stride and remaining focused on his real objective.
"I was home watching the race and I remember that I was very nervous, but I knew what he (Bolt) could have done. When that happened, I had just reached school and joined the Racers family. I tried out for the team and didn't make it. I wasn't that strong, but look at four years down the road. Wow," Blake reminisced.
Times have changed indeed. Blake has been catapulted into the fray as Bolt's main challenger, following a splendid end to last season, which saw him run a blistering 19.26 in a 200m after helping himself to a gold medal at the World Championships.
He enters the Olympic Games as the fastest man so far this season, with a best of 9.75, which was posted during the Jamaican Olympic Trials, where he shocked the world, beating Bolt twice.
Blake admitted that those wins in Kingston have pushed his confidence along, but pointed out that he started developing a greater belief in his abilities after his triumph in Daegu, South Korea.
"A win is a win, but I gained confidence first of all from Daegu. I know what I can do, even though Usain wasn't at his best, I take confidence from everything that I do, so I am bringing it to London," said Blake, during a press conference hosted by his shoe sponsor adidas at the Westfield Mall in London.
Blake could hardly contain his emotions as he mentioned his delight with finally experiencing his first Olympic Games.
"Looking back even at the last Olympics, I have always wanted to be here. This is everybody's dream and to be here is just exciting being around everybody. I'm just feeling goosebumps about the Olympics and it's really great," Blake added.
But how is he dealing with all the new attention and expectations?
"There is no pressure. Coach (Glen) Mills has been working with me over the years. When I'm home or in the village, I don't think about it. I focus on different things, but there is no pressure," Blake added. "Yes, I'm the fastest man in the world now and people think I'm the man to beat, but when you are at the line, it's different."