'I was born in the wrong time' - Blake reflects on impact of Bolt shadow

By Sports Desk December 04, 2019
Usain Bolt and Yohan Blake. Usain Bolt and Yohan Blake.

 Jamaican sprinter Yohan Blake believes he has suffered from competing in the same era as compatriot and athletics great Usain Bolt.

The 29-year-old Blake has recorded some stunning achievements of his own on the track, in a career that has also been hampered by injury.  His best times over the 100m (9.69) and 200m (19.26) are the second-fastest ever recorded over the distances.  Bolt still holds both world records.

In addition, Blake claimed the gold medal at the 2011 Daegu World Championship and silver medals in both the 100m and 200m at the 2012 London Olympic Games.  On both occasions, the sprinter finished behind his illustrious teammate Bolt.  Once thought as the natural successor to the athletics sprint throne, Blake then suffered major hamstring injuries in both the 2013 and 2014 seasons.  While insisting that he is satisfied with what he has achieved in the sport to date,  Blake believes things could have been different had he been born in another era.

"I would be the fastest man in everything. I feel like I was born in a wrong time. But nevertheless, I am happy with what I have achieved,” Blake told reporters recently.

“It would be hard to top Usain because it was his time and it was hard to compete against him. The first time I beat him in Kingston, I had to work day and night to do it."

Heading into the 2012 Olympics Blake defeated Bolt over both the 100m and 200m at the Jamaica National trials but never managed to repeat the feat.

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  • Karsten Warholm says he is not the man to replace Bolt Karsten Warholm says he is not the man to replace Bolt

    Despite enjoying an outstanding 2020 track season World 400m hurdles champion, Karsten Warholm does not believe he is the man to replace Usain Bolt as the face of track and field. In fact, he believes no one can.

    The 24-year-old Warholm came incredibly close to Kevin Young’s world record of 46.78 set back in 1992, when he ran 46.87, a European record, at the Diamond League meeting in Stockholm in August.

    Warholm also became the first athlete to run 47.10 or faster over the 400m hurdles multiple times during the course of a single season. He did it four times.

    His remarkable performances made him the standout star in 2020 as every time he raced fans expected him to challenge or break the world record.

    During a recent chat on Instagram Live with Olympian and athletics broadcaster Ato Boldon, Warholm was asked he if was ready to assume the mantle of the man to replace Usain Bolt. Achieving that, he said, would be impossible.

    "When Usain Bolt came into the sport, he didn't have anyone right before him that... He didn't have any shoes to fill at that point,” he said.

    "Now everybody talks about who's going to be the next Usain Bolt. Nobody is going to be the next Usain Bolt! Nobody is going to be the next Ato Boldon either.

    "I think everybody's got to find their own way, Usain Bolt was huge so it's an honour just being compared to him but for me it's always been about developing.

    "I don't want to build myself up as the face of the sport or the next Usain because for me it's about the running. If what comes with it is that people get inspired by what I'm doing, then I think that's great."

  • Athletes, administrators shocked, saddened by impending closure of Spartan Health Club Athletes, administrators shocked, saddened by impending closure of Spartan Health Club

    A mixture of shock, sadness and disappointment greeted Mickey Haughton-James’ announcement last week that he would close the Spartan Health Club indefinitely at the end of September because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

    The gym opened in 1976 and has largely been associated with the beautiful women of the Miss Jamaica World franchise but Spartan has also been home to some of Jamaica’s greatest athletes, among them some of the very best in the world.

    Reggae legend Bob Marley also broke sweat there.

    Members of the West Indies cricket team, Jamaica’s Reggae Boyz, World and Olympic medallists and Jamaica’s world-class netballers have all, at one time or another used the facilities to hone their bodies in the pursuit of athletic excellence.

    Leeroy Gray was a physical trainer at the gym for many years. Before he migrated, he worked with some of the very best including eight-time Olympic gold medallist and world record holder Usain Bolt; 2011 100m World Champion Yohan Blake as well as Olympic bronze medallist Warren Weir.

    Gray also trained St Kitts’ Kim Collins, the 2003 100m World Champion; British 100m champion Dwayne Chambers, Olympian Aleen Bailey, World Championship bronze medallist Ristanana Tracey and Commonwealth 100m champion Kemar Bailey-Cole during his time at what he described as Jamaica’s No. 1 gym.

    “To hear that the gym is closing for good, it is not good,” he told Sportsmax.TV, clearly at a loss for words.

    He was not the only one taken by surprise.

    “I don’t even know where to start,” said Blake, the second-fastest man of all time. “Usually, when I get up in the morning I scan through the news while preparing for training. It was a shock to find out that Spartan was closing for good.

    “I remember clearly this amazing facility that helped not only me, but so many of our world-class athletes reach where they are today. It was a wonderful place to do your workout and have a talk with everyone. I have many good memories of Spartan. I still can't believe it. I understand this facility has been around from 1976. It represents the end of an era. I am truly sad that it has to close.”

    Blake alluded to the fact that Spartan was more than just a gym. It was a place where like-minded athletes shared conversations and inspiration with the many patrons.

    Weir, who along with Bolt and Blake, finished 1-2-3 in the 200m at the 2012 London Olympics also had fond memories of the days when he trained there.

    “Spartan was that place where you went and just felt motivated to work because there was so much inspiration around you. People were always encouraging you to just be your best,” Weir recalled.

    “I remember when I just started at Spartan, there were always people there telling you ‘you’re gonna be good, you’re gonna be great, just continue training’

    “Then seeing other sports people and artistes there putting the work in, also motivates you and lets you see that you on the TV is work that is being done on the back end.”

    Former West Indies opener Wavell Hinds spent a lot of time at Spartan after his Test career ended in 2005. The work he put in there helped him prolong his playing days and for that, he expressed his gratitude to Haughton-James.

    “The generosity of Mr James and the Spartan Gym contributed immensely to my career between 2007 and 2011,” he said.

    “In fact, the entire Jamaica Cricket team benefited from the use of Spartan gym during the said period.  I want publicly thank Mr James and Spartan for their contribution to the development of Jamaica's cricket.”

    Former Netball Jamaica President Marva Bernard said read the news of the impending closure made her very sad.

    “Many, many years ago we used to get support from Mickey to use the gym to train the Sunshine Girls and I vividly remember Connie Francis, in particular. I can still see her running on that treadmill as if her life depended on it, that is how hard she trained,” Bernard said.

    “And so, I want to say to Mickey, thank you so much for the years of support that you have given, not only to Netball Jamaica but several of the elite athletes in all sporting disciplines.

    “Your generosity knows no bounds and I hope that one day you will rebound because you’re a good man and your gym has made a difference in many people’s lives.”

  •    Battle to save ‘Usain Bolt’ – former racehorse’s desperate plight points to continued peril for animals      Battle to save ‘Usain Bolt’ – former racehorse’s desperate plight points to continued peril for animals  

     Left alone to die, deep in the bushes of Falmouth, Trelawny, a former racehorse recently renamed George or Usain Bolt was rescued from certain death by a young woman who refused to turn a blind eye to the animal’s suffering.

     These days he receives plenty of love and care from his new owner, Julie, but a battle with cellulitis in one of his legs continues to put the animal’s life and health at risk.

    The plight of the noble equine, however, speaks to larger issues, which we should be flushed with shame to ignore.  Firstly, we must ask the obvious question, how can we in good conscience allow such gentle creatures to be used and discarded in such a manner? But secondly, there clearly needs to be an inquiry into circumstances that have reportedly led to an increase in these life-threatening leg injuries at the island’s major racetrack, Caymanas Park, which makes it more likely for animals to end up in this or similar circumstances.

    The disease afflicting George stems from a bacterial infection of the soft connective tissues under the skin, and it causes sudden, extreme swelling in the affected area—often in a leg. The disease is fairly common in horses, but on a recent occasion, George's leg had tripled in size overnight, which was terrifying especially because it causes lameness.

    Lameness and infections can also be caused by a fracture in a horse’s leg.  Earlier this year former member of parliament and noted veterinarian Dr St Aubyn Bartlett called for a forensic audit into what he believed was a concerning increase in the number of leg fractures suffered by animals at Caymanas.

    “We have to go right around, because I don’t think it is a matter of necessarily the track surface, but our track surface could have some impact,” Bartlett told the Gleaner in January.

     In a recent piece published in August 2020 titled, ‘Work to be done on Caymanas track’ Chairman of Supreme Ventures Racing and Entertainment Limited (SVREL), Solomon Sharpe, explained that the surface at the facility was, at the moment, overdue to be repaired. 

    According to Sharp the surface was typically repaired every six months, but the COVID-19 pandemic, the unavailability of equipment and other factors had led to a delay in the process.  In the same piece, Anthony ‘Baba’ Nunes a champion trainer, however, opined that grading should ideally be done 'almost every two to three weeks'.

    While there is yet to be an established correlation, it seems more consistent repairs would remove a potentially causative factor from the equation and could lead to fewer instances where animals are put down or abandoned.  As for George, he remains far from out of the woods.

    The Montego Bay Animal Haven recently thanked Dr. Sophia Ramlal, a veterinary surgeon for over 20 years, who ensures the wellbeing of the horses at Caymanas, for helping the stricken George.

    This is the sad, but very real story about a lot of racehorses [but] his is different because a young lady found him. Way up in the bush, way off the beaten track, and she called me, begging for help,” the non-profit organisation said.

    He has been battling the infection for a year now.  Some days are good and others are far from it. Inaccessible medication plus the lack of knowledge about the disease is preventing him from completely recovering. The Montego Bay Animal Haven said in a recent, touching post, “last night he was rushed off to @watessporthorses [Wates Sport Horses] where I promise you, if they hadn’t come, he would be in horse heaven by now.”

    “We just don’t have the facilities or honestly, the knowledge to handle this. The same young lady who found him looks after and feeds him every day, rushed off at silly o’clock this morning, through a storm, pouring rain, to meet @hiprosupercentre [Hi-Pro Supercentre] in Kingston, three hours away, to get the meds needed to keep him alive.”

     The recent update  encouraged donations for George at https://www.montegobayanimalhaven.com/donate but says though he is receiving great care from Dr. Denise Cole and Dr. Sophia Ramlal, they are “not sure he will make it.”

     

    Please share your thoughts on Twitter (@SportsMax_Carib) or in the comments section on Facebook (@SportsMax). Don’t forget to use #IAmNotAFan. Until next time!

     

    Correction

    SportsMax.tv would like to apologise for wrongly attributing quotes in the previous version of this article to Chairman of Supreme Ventures Racing and Entertainment Limited (SVREL), Solomon Sharpe.  We deeply regret the error and any harm that may have resulted.

    We would also like to categorically state that it was not our intention to suggest a direct correlation between the state of the surface at the Caymanas racetrack and equine injury. 

    We accept that the issue is complex and multi-faceted and merely intended it to be analytically viewed as part of a long list of potential factors that could be at the centre of the issue.

     

     

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