A man of few words: rising sprint star Ackeem Blake intends to let performance talk at JAAA National Champs

By July 05, 2023
Ackeem Blake Ackeem Blake

It is said that the words coaches say to their athletes, and the words athletes say to themselves, greatly influence their performance. If that is anything to go by, then rising sprint star Ackeem Blake is set for another big showing at the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA) National Junior and Senior Championships –barring any mishaps.

The four-day Championships which is being used to select Jamaica's senior team to the World Athletics Championships, as well as teams to a few youth events, get is set to start on Thursday at the National Stadium.

Blake, has been the pacesetter in terms of his steady display of form so far this season, having dipped below 10 seconds in four of seven 100-metre races to date, which just about signals his readiness to challenge for a spot on the team to the World Athletics Championships in Budapest, Hungary, next month.

The 21-year-old, who opened his season with times of 10.05s, 9.93s and 9.99s in April, gradually upped the ante on May 21, when he clocked a wind-aided 9.87s in Bermuda, which may not have counted where achievements are concerned, but would have done his confidence a world of good.

And, so it did. He returned a week later and produced another impressive run, clocking a new personal best 9.89s at the USATF LA Grand Prix, in California. That time bettered his previous best of 9.93s that came at last year's National Championship.

However, his most recent performances at the backend of June, a 10.07s-clocking at the Budapest Quest meet inside the National Stadium, followed by 9.93s at the USATF New York Grand Prix, Blake said fell below his coach's expectations where execution is concerned.

"I never executed those races how my coach wanted, so we just have to go back to the drawing board and put in the work," Blake said in a recent interview during the National Championships launch.

A statement like that speaks volumes of the high standard both Blake and his Titans Track Club coach have set for themselves and, understandably so, as the quality of Jamaica's male sprinting took a nosedive since the retirement of the incomparable Usain Bolt in 2017.

But Blake, a former Merlene Ottey High standout is among those leading the revival having made it to the semi-finals at the World Championships in Eugene, Oregon in his first full season in the senior professional ranks.

With that experience under his belt, there is no limit to what Blake could possibly achieve this year and beyond, provided he stays fit and healthy. 

"I gained a lot of experience last year which was good for me so now I am just using that experience to be the best that I can be. So, I'm good, I am more relaxed and just having fun," Blake declared.

Given the fact that he placed third at last year's National Championship behind 2011 World Champion and the second fastest man alive, Yohan Blake, who is also his training partner, the Titans young star knows that taking the national title won't be easy.

Yohan Blake the reigning national champion, as well as Oblique Seville, who has been a bit low-key with a season's best 9.95 seconds and other top contenders –possibly Julian Forte, Bouwahjgie Nkrumie and DeAndre Daley –are expected to face the starter for Friday's final, and it is anybody's guess who will reign supreme.

Young Blake, being a man of few words, is intent on letting his performance do the talking on the track, which is when his true personality comes to light.

"Coach is just working on my start so I can go out there to have fun and do what I have to do that's it. So, I'm not talking (about expectations) right now, I am just going out there and time will tell," he ended.

Sherdon Cowan

Sherdon Cowan is a five-time award-winning journalist with 10 years' experience covering sports.

Related items

  • Jamaican government contributes JMD$10 million to inaugural Jamaica Athletics Invitational Jamaican government contributes JMD$10 million to inaugural Jamaica Athletics Invitational

    The Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, the Honourable Olivia Grange, has announced a significant contribution of  JMD$10 million (approximately USD$64,000) from the Sports Development Foundation to support the staging of the inaugural Jamaica Athletics Invitational Meet, scheduled to take place at the National Stadium in Kingston on May 11, 2024.

    Minister Grange expressed full support for the Invitational, highlighting its importance in providing athletes with a platform to assess their status and make necessary adjustments ahead of upcoming competitions, including the Olympics.

    "This Invitational Silver Continental Category Meet, as per World Athletics Standard, will allow athletes and coaches to accurately assess their status and make the necessary adjustments to achieve the preferred results in good time for the upcoming Olympics," Minister Grange stated.

    She emphasized the significance of hosting international athletes from the Caribbean, United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and Europe, fostering healthy competition and camaraderie among participants.

    Minister Grange extended a warm welcome to all athletes and emphasized the dual focus on performance and positive social interactions during the meet.

    "Competitions of this calibre force all athletes to participate at peak performance while forging positive social interactions and camaraderie. So while great focus will be placed on the performances, an after party awaits you," Minister Grange added enthusiastically.

    The Jamaica Athletics Invitational Meet has already confirmed participation from international stars such as World Indoor Champion Julien Alfred of St Lucia, Dina Asher Smith from Great Britain, 2022 World 100m champion Fred Kerley, Trayvon Brommel, and rising triple jump star Jaydon Hibbert.

    With the support from the Sports Development Foundation and the Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, the inaugural Jamaica Athletics Invitational promises to be an electrifying event, showcasing top-tier athletic talent and promoting the spirit of sportsmanship and competition.

    “Let the games begin!” the Jamaican sports minister declared.

  • JAAA president silent on Adidas' record-breaking investment proposal for Jamaican athletics JAAA president silent on Adidas' record-breaking investment proposal for Jamaican athletics

    The President of the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA), Garth Gayle, has refrained from commenting on an ambitious investment proposal put forward by global sports giant Adidas that could revolutionize Jamaica's track and field landscape.

    Nationwide News broke the story on Wednesday detailing Adidas' proposal, which includes a staggering JMD$5.7 billion investment over the next eight years to bolster athletics at both elite and grassroots levels in Jamaica. Despite this significant development, President Garth Gayle declined to provide a statement on Thursday, citing the association's existing contract with Puma.

    Adidas's proposal, as outlined in documents obtained by Sportsmaz.TV, involves substantial financial support, equipment provision, infrastructure development, and athlete incentives aimed at enhancing Jamaica's athletic programs.

    However, while President Gayle opted not to comment, Jamaica's Sports Minister expressed enthusiasm for any deal that benefits Jamaica and its athletes, indicating a potential willingness to support such initiatives.

    “All I can say is anything that is going to further enhance brand Jamaica and enhance the performance of our athletes, motivate them and inspire them to better, I am for it,” the minister told Sportsmax.TV.

    Adidas unveiled the ambitious plan that could potentially transform Jamaica's track and field landscape with a groundbreaking USD$38.8 million or JMD $5.7 billion investment proposal over the next eight years. This proposal, aimed at revolutionizing both elite and grassroots athletics, has stirred significant interest and discussions within the Jamaica's track and field fraternity and raised questions over whether the JAAA is seriously considering accepting or is keen on negotiating with Adidas.

    Details of the proposal, first reported by Nationwide News on Wednesday, outline a comprehensive investment strategy that includes substantial financial support, equipment provision, infrastructure development, and athlete incentives.

    According to the documents obtained by Sportsmax.TV, the proposal earmarks nearly USD$3 million annually to the JAAA, covering operational costs and athletic program enhancements. Additionally, Adidas plans to allocate USD$2,180,000 worth of equipment each year, ensuring Jamaican athletes have access to world-class gear to uphold the nation's track and field legacy.

    A notable aspect of the proposal is the inclusion of a 10 per cent royalty bonus from the sales of Adidas apparel associated with Jamaican athletics, offering a potential revenue stream to further bolster the sport's development in Jamaica.

    Adidas further proposes an annual retainer of USD$2.5 million for the JAAA, along with a dedicated budget of USD$250,000 for infrastructure repairs and upgrades across Jamaica.

    The sponsorship extends beyond financial support, with provisions for executive travel budgets to ensure representation at international meetings and events. Athletes achieving global success can expect significant rewards, with podium finishers at the Olympics and other major championships receiving substantial bonuses.

    According to the proposal athletes would be rewarded with a bonus of USD$25,000 for winning Olympic gold, USD$15,000 for silver, USD$10,000 for bronze.

    For World Championships gold medallists would earn USD$15,000 for gold, USD$10,000 for silver and USD$8000 for bronze. Jamaican athletes winning gold at the World Indoor Championships would earn a bonus of USD10,000, silver medallists would collect USD$8000 while bronze medallists be rewarded with USD$7,000.

    Jamaica’s junior athletes will not be left out as gold medal winners at the World U20 Championships would receive a hefty bonus of USD$7500 while silver and bronze medallists would take home USD$5000 and USD$2000, respectively.

    USD$7500 would be reserved for relay gold medals with silver and bronze medals earning USD$5000 and USD$2000, respectively.

     

     

     

  • Star-studded line-up confirmed for inaugural Jamaica Athletics Invitational Star-studded line-up confirmed for inaugural Jamaica Athletics Invitational

    The excitement is building for the inaugural Jamaica Athletics Invitational (JAI), set to take place at Kingston's National Stadium on May 11, 2024, with a stellar line-up of track and field stars ready to dazzle the crowds.

    Among the highly anticipated events is the men's 110m hurdles, featuring Olympic champion Hansle Parchment and Commonwealth Games champion Rasheed Broadbell. They will be joined by standout American hurdler Daniel Roberts, promising a thrilling battle over the barriers.

    In addition to the hurdles spectacle, the sprint events will showcase talents such as recently crowned World Indoor 60m champion Julien Alfred, making her return to Jamaica after her high school years. Joining her are international sensations like Great Britain's Dina Asher Smith and two-time world champion Abby Steiner, ensuring top-class competition on the track.

    The men’s sprints is promising to equally captivating with Zharnel Hughes, Marvin Bracy, Trayvon Brommel, Abdul Hakim Sani-Brown and Fred Kerley confirmed for the meet.

    The 400m races will see world championship gold medalist Alexis Holmes taking on Jamaican quarter-milers Charokee Young and Stacey-Ann Williams in the one-lap sprint, while Commonwealth Games medalist Matthew Hudson-Smith leads the men's charge.

    Two-time world championship 400m hurdles bronze medallist Rushell Clayton will go to head to head with the outstanding Shamier Little while Pan American champion Jaheel Hyde will take on World Championship bronze medalist Kyron McMaster over the 400m hurdles.

    Field events will be equally captivating, with Jamaican prodigy Jaydon Hibbert and Donald Scott confirmed for the triple jump. Two-time world championship silver medalist Shanieka Ricketts will clash with 2024 World Indoor Champion Thea Lafond of Dominica in the women's event.

    Fedrick Dacres, the 2019 World Championship silver medalist, will add excitement to the men's discus event.

    Ludlow Watts, chairman of the local organizing committee, emphasized the significance of the JAI in showcasing international talent in Jamaica. 

    “Those who might have thought that the days of staging of international events by the JAAA are over you will now know we jus’ a come,” said Ludlow Watts, who is chairman of the local organizing committee. “JAI will feature 14 international events; 10 running events and four field events. The international segment will be held between 7:30 and 9:30 pm. There will also be a developmental segment between 6 and 6:30 pm. That segment is to provide opportunity for those who did not get into the main event.

    "We want every Jamaican to be in the stadium. We would like a full cheering stadium."

    Ticket prices have been designed to ensure that the National Stadium will be filled to capacity for the meet. As such finish-line tickets for the Grand Stand will be sold for JMD$3000 with seats in all other sections of the stand fetching a price of JMD$2500. The Bleacher seats will be free.

    Tickets for the event will be available online from April 22 to May 4 and can be purchased at the Jamaica Pegasus in Kingston and the National Stadium Ticket Office from May 8 to 11.

     

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.