Tue | Dec 5, 2023

Blake hopes for Paris farewell

Sprinter puts handbrake on half-lap competition

Published:Thursday | February 2, 2023 | 1:06 AMHubert Lawrence/Gleaner Writer
Yohan Blake competing in the men’s 100 metres at the World Athletics Championships in Eugene, Oregon, last year.
Yohan Blake competing in the men’s 100 metres at the World Athletics Championships in Eugene, Oregon, last year.

YOHAN BLAKE won’t be contesting any more championship 200-metre races. That’s the word from Blake himself in an interview recently. Visiting India as an Event Ambassador for the 18th edition of the Mumbai Marathon held on January 15, the Jamaican said he will focus on the 100 metres and the 4x100 for the rest of his athletics career.

Quoted by writer Hemal Ashar of the Mid-Day.com website, Blake reportedly said, “Doing the 200, 100 and relays simply takes a lot out of you, so these are the events I want to focus on.”

Blake, now 33, is history’s second fastest man at both 100 and 200 metres, and has in his trophy case the 2012 Olympic silver medals for both events. If not for his former training partner Usain Bolt, his personal best of 19.26 seconds in the 2011 Brussels Diamond League meet would be the world record.

His time from the 2012 Olympic Games – 19.44 seconds – has a special place in history too. No one has ever run that fast over 200 metres and lost, as Blake did to Bolt in those London Games.

In the interview, Blake pinpointed the moment when he will leave championship athletics.

“Paris 2024 should be my last dance,” he specified with regard to next year’s Olympic Games.

The sprinter suffered horrendous hamstring injuries in 2013 and 2014. Since his recovery, he has run under 10 seconds in the 100 in every full season from 2016 onward, reaching the World and Olympic finals in 2016, 2017 and 2019. He ran his fastest 100 time in 10 years – 9.85 seconds – to beat Oblique Seville at last year’s National Championships.

That time made Blake the fastest Jamaican of the year, a position he also held in 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2021.

By comparison, he hasn’t reached a World or Olympic 200-metre final since 2012 and withdrew due to injury at the semi-final stage at the 2022 World Championships in Eugene, Oregon.

The man who delivered the baton to Bolt at the 2011 Worlds and at the 2012 Olympics, won by Jamaica in record times of 37.04 and 36.84 seconds, respectively, has high regard for the tall man from Trelawny.

“We both push each other. I’m eternally grateful to compete in the same time as him, and I am forever privileged for my name to be taken in the same breath as his.”

The powerfully built Blake was also part of another world relay record in 2014. Warren Weir, Jermaine Brown, Nickel Ashmeade and Blake snipped 0.05 off the old 4x200 mark, set by a Santa Monica Track Club quartet anchored by Carl Lewis, and left it at 1 minute, 18.63 seconds. The Jamaicans did the deed at the 2014 World Relays in The Bahamas.