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Monday, July 2, 2012

Blake - no longer Bolt from Blue - double at Jamaica

The 2012 Summer Olympics would begin on 27th July 2012 – month and days away – it would be exciting for us to watch – the standards are pretty high, exacting and demanding; all the events are closely fought and many end-up in photo-finishes for the podium. 

There are some who leave indelible impression – the swimming champ – Michael Phelps is one.  On Sunday, he qualified qualified for a fifth individual event on the penultimate night of competition at the US Trials.  He won the 100 meters butterfly final in 51.14 seconds.  He holds an awesome 14 Olympic gold medals, great by any standard.  He is 27 and has lot still going.  Usain Bolt perhaps is spoken off in the same pedestal.

The dream runner, considered often undisputed symbol of track and field short distance running,  however, lost – yes lost that too twice – to a fellow Jamaican and his training mate, who is now looked upon with awe.   Usain  Bolt born in 1986 is a Jamaican sprinter – 5 times World record and 3 times Olympic gold medalist.  He is the world record and Olympic record holder in the 100 metres, the 200 metres and (along with his teammates) the 4×100 metres relay. He is the reigning Olympic champion in these three events. The journey to top started with a 200 m gold medal at the 2002 World Junior Championships, making him the competition's youngest-ever gold medalist at the time.

His 2008 season began with his first world record performance—a 100 m world record of 9.72 s—and culminated in world and Olympic records in both the 100 m and 200 m events at the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics. He ran 9.69 s for the 100 m and 19.30 s in the 200 m, and also set a 4×100 m relay record of 37.10 s with the Jamaican team. 

This made him the first man to win three sprinting events at a single Olympics since Carl Lewis in 1984, and the first man to set world records in all three at a single Olympics. The following year he further lowered his own 100 m and 200 m world records to 9.58 s and 19.19 s respectively at the 2009 World Championships.This made him the first man to hold both the 100 and 200 m world and Olympic titles at the same time.  He is referred to as ‘lightning’ and his many awards include IAAF World Athlete of the Year, Track & Field Athlete of the Year, and Laureus Sportsman of the Year.

He stands tall head and shoulder above his competitors – literally at 6’5″ - charismatic, seen as the biggest name in track and field. Not as popular is Yohan Blake  at 22,  three years younger- training partner – whether he is providing motivation or making Bolt gasp for breath is difficult to be understood now.  He is now seen as the Man who could snatch the title away from Bolt in London

The Fastest Man in the World wasn't the fastest man in Jamaica on Friday night.  In the Jamaican Olympic Trials, Yohan Blake, nicknamed "The Beast," outsmarted  Usain Bolt out of the starting blocks and finished the 100-meter final in 9.75 seconds to upset the world-record holder by 0.11 seconds in the Jamaican Olympic trials.

Blake is, indeed, the reigning world champion, but that victory came when Bolt was not running at South Korea after being disqualified for a false start. This was their first rematch, their first real race since then. Bolt was considered the favorite, not only because of his world record — 9.58 seconds — but because Blake, his training partner, had never run below 9.82 in his life.  Now he has – the 9.75 seconds on a calm night in Kingston goes down as the best time in the world this year and also breaks the four-year-old National Stadium record; both previous marks were 9.76 — both held by Bolt.  The third place went to Asafa Powell, another winner in his own right even when Blake and Bolt are around. 

There are comments that Bolt was not 100 percent fit and has been  struggling out of the blocks.  Blake, who trains with Bolt, gave credit to his teammate for helping him get to the top of the podium in Kingston but the “The Beast” might not be getting too many more tips following four-days of total domination.

Blake's 100 m personal best of 9.75 seconds makes him the fourth fastest man ever, after Asafa Powell, Usain Bolt and Tyson Gay. His personal best for the 200 m (19.26 seconds) is the second fastest ever after Bolt.  If 100M was not a shocker, more was to follow as Blake completed the sprint double over his more renowned teammate, clocking a time of 19.80 seconds, with Bolt lagging behind, second in 19.83. Warren Weir secured the final Olympic qualifying spot in a time of 20.03.

Bolt ended the race lying flat on his back on the track grimacing in pain as medical staff rushed to his side to work on a cramped right thigh.  The lanky sprinter was quickly back on his feet accepting his defeat with grace and putting on a brave face after what had to have been an extremely trying weekend for the world’s fastest man.  Certainly a great show by the man who has struggled to emerge from Bolt's shadow. Bolt holds the world record at 19.19, and Blake's personal best is not far behind at 19.26.

Sure it is more than a spot of bother for the Champ Bolt as he should be nursing concerns of his defending  100 and 200m titles in the London Olympics.

One could recall that in the 13th World Championships in Athletics - an international athletics competition  held in Daegu, South Korea in Aug 2011, Yohan Blake won the medal in 100M spring.  Following the shock disqualification of compatriot Usain Bolt, Blake won the Gold medal comfortably with a time of 9.92s.  There it was a  technical loss for the  triple Olympic champion, as he faltered in the blocks on lane five

Regards – S. Sampathkumar.

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