Blake rues lack of local meets to help with preparations for his final Olympics

Blake rues lack of local meets to help with preparations for his final Olympics

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

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While revealing that this year's Olympic Games will be his last, Yohan Blake voiced his disappointment with the lack of urgency being placed on the resumption of sports, and track and field in particular.

Though Minister of sport Olivia Grange recently gave a two-week timeline for a possible return, stating that her ministry and the Ministry of Health and Wellness are working to find solutions and expedite matters, Blake believes more could have been done on the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association's (JAAA) part to get athletes back on track at an earlier point, notwithstanding the health and safety protocols in place by the Government.

To date, the Velocity Fest, which was a series of five or seven meets staged in July, August and September – limited to a few senior athletes – as well as the Tyson Mills Classic, which accepted both senior and high school athletes, have been the only meets held locally.

A few others on the calendar have since been postponed or cancelled.

“We have a big problem in Jamaica because there are other meets going on around the world and we don't have any meets here to prepare, and we need to get prepared and prepare soon,” Blake told journalists during the opening of his YB Rehab and Wellness Centre on Old Hope Road yesterday.

“Even before we get to (national) trials, Champs is going to be in May and the athletes are not running. How are they going to perform to the magnitude of how they would like to perform come May?” he questioned.

Blake, who became the youngest World Champion in 2011, argued that the lack of local meets is stifling athletes' preparations for the Tokyo Olympics, which was postponed last year and is now scheduled to take place from July 23 to August 8.

“I believe they can sanction some games or something for it to go along, so I am very upset, but I guess we have to work with the guidelines. But Ian Forbes and all those guys must say to the Government, 'We have everything in place, let us run some meets', and we do need the meets because we are struggling in Jamaica.

“Meets are going on in the United States, cricket is going on and spectators are there; we don't have to have any spectators, just help the athletes,” Blake pointed out.

That said, the sprinter, the second fastest man ever in both 100m and 200m, behind former training partner and sprint legend Usain Bolt, declared his intentions to venture overseas for competition to aid his readiness for the big multi-sport event.

“That is definitely on the agenda because if there is no alternative here in Jamaica we have to look elsewhere, and there are wonderful competitions going on overseas. Christopher Taylor ran really well [at a meet in Arkansas] on Sunday and I am looking at that, as well,” Blake, who along with American Tyson Gay, is the joint second fastest man over 100m with a personal best of 9.69 seconds, shared.

On another note, the athlete, who is now under the guidance of coach Gregory Little, pointed out that he was left devastated after rumours circulated that the Olympic Games had been cancelled.

“That night I was just blank because I have been training so hard; I really want my individual gold at the Olympics and I am really looking forward to it, so to hear that the Games were to be cancelled, I was really devastated.

“But I woke up in the morning and realised nothing like that would happen, so I am really happy and I am looking forward to it. It is going to be my last one and I can't wait, and I am preparing for it,” he reiterated.

Still, with speculations rife of cancellation and the outlook grim, Blake, 31, remains unwavering in his stance that whether it is held or not, this year will be his final hurrah where the Olympics are concerned.

“This will be my final one,” he stated.

“Track and field is hard and my body has been through a decade of running and it's getting to the point where I have to call time. So, I am going to use my last berth at Olympics, my last World Championships after that, and just give it my all. But I am just hoping it will be held; even if I will be the only one running, I want to go,” Blake added.

— Sherdon Cowan


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