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Blake will take over, says Bolt - Sprint icon lists training partner as heir apparent

Published:Tuesday | May 31, 2016 | 12:00 AMDania Bogle
Yohan Blake clocking a fast 9.95 seconds at the UTech/MVP Classic at the National Stadium on April 16.

The world's fastest man, Usain Bolt, has designated his training partner and 2011 World 100m champion, Yohan Blake, as his heir apparent and said he expects his fellow Jamaican to pick up the mantle of the "face of global athletics" when he retires from the sport.

Bolt, the reigning two-time Olympic 100m and 200m champion, has been the superstar of the sport for the last eight years.

The athlete, who turns 30 in August, has said he plans to retire after next year's International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) World Championships in Athletics in London and president of track, and field's world governing body, Sebastian Coe, had said the sport will survive after Bolt's departure.

Speaking to The Gleaner at yesterday's Bring the Beat launch at the Terra Nova All-Suite Hotel in Kingston, Bolt said Blake, who is also coached by Glen Mills at the University of the West Indies-based Racers Track Club, is the man for job.

"I said to Blake that he is the one that I have to hand it over to after I retire. To me, he is going to come back in form very great after the season to come because it's going to take time after coming back from a big injury to get back into your running; so I think when I retire that Blake will definitely take over," the athlete said.

Blake, then only a 21-year-old, became the youngest 100m World champion in history in 2011 when he won the men's 100m final at the IAAF World Championships in Daegu, South Korea, in a field missing Bolt, who had earlier false-started.

He won silver in the event at the 2012 Olympic Games in London, beaten into second by Bolt, and was a member of Jamaica's gold medal-winning 4x100m relay team.

In 2013, Blake suffered a hamstring injury and has since struggled to regain form, but Bolt believes that when he does, he will be the man to beat.

"I know I train with Yohan Blake and I see him compete, and he was one of the top athletes before he got injured, and he's going to get back to the top as long as he continues working and stays focused, as I know he will, so I give him the crown."

At the height of form, Blake beat Bolt in the final of the men's 100m and 200m at the 2012 Jamaica National Senior Championships, clocking 9.75 seconds and 19.80 to Bolt's 9.86 seconds and 19.83.

Bolt, in the meantime, is looking forward to winning the 100m and 200m titles at the Olympic Games later this year.

"Everything is happy, everything is going smooth; training is going well. My coach is happy and I'm taking my time and lowering my time, so I'm happy with where everything is going," he said.