When Afiya made London 2012 extra special for Keston Bledman

By April 22, 2020
London 2012 was extra special for Keston Bledman (kneeling). London 2012 was extra special for Keston Bledman (kneeling).

With a personal best of 9.86 in the 100m, Keston Bledman is arguably one of the most-talented sprinters ever to come out of Trinidad and Tobago.  His talent was evident from very early on when he won a bronze medal in the 100m at the World U18 Championships in Marrakech in 2005.

In 2007, he upset Jamaica’s Yohan Blake to win gold at the Pan American Junior Championships in Sao Paulo, Brazil. In retrospect, it really was not a surprise when he made Trinidad and Tobago’s team to his first-ever Olympics, the 2008 Games in Beijing where he was a reserve for the 4x100m relay.

That team of Bledman, Mark Burns, Richard Thompson and Emmanuel Callender would win silver behind Jamaica that year. However, they were upgraded to the gold medal a decade later when Jamaica’s leadoff runner, Nesta Carter, returned an adverse finding from a re-test of his 2008 sample.

The medal was the first for any Trinidadian relay team at an Olympic Games and while that was a special occasion to the then 20-year-old Bledman, it is from the 2012 Games in London that he found his best memory.

“For most people, their first Olympics is their best Olympics. Beijing was my first Olympics but my best Olympics was 2012,” he said. “In Beijing, I had just run the relay, in London, it was the first Olympics I was competing in an individual event, the 100m, so that was like a dream come true for me.”

Bledman advanced to the semi-finals of the 100m and just missed out on a place in the final. However, he would win another medal, a silver in the sprint relay later on in the championships, but that is only part of what made London 2012 memorable for the speedy Trinidadian.

His memories of London 2012 was more special for one specific reason.

“My wife was pregnant with my daughter, my first child, Zion. When you are running and looking in the stands and you can see someone waving to you, it is a big thing. That was special to me,” he said.

He tells the story of how his wife, Afiya, and her mother surprised him when they showed up in London. “If I was running in Trinidad they would usually come to see me run but when I am running in Paris or Monaco, or London, somewhere far, it’s hard,” he said.

“In London, my dad was working, my mom was working so it was a surprise. They were like ‘guess where we are?’ And I said ‘don’t play with me’.

Bledman’s wife and mother-in-law arrived at the Olympic Village and they went to a nearby mall to eat. “It was really, really nice,” he recalled, adding that things only got better from there.

“We slept at the hotel, got to rub her belly, stuff that I would not have got to do if she was home.”

The presence of his pregnant wife also provided a bit of motivation for the Olympic medallist.

Before the start of the relay finals, Bledman began experiencing a bit of an issue.

“My right hip had started acting up really bad. I had actually pulled myself out of the relay team but when I was warming up, I felt good. My whole thing was that my wife had come so far to see me run and I wasn’t going to get to run in this relay,” he said.

Bottom line, he ran and T&T won their medal and there was a sweet cherry on top waiting in the stands.

“When I saw my wife in her TT jacket, big belly; my mother-in-law standing next to her, and she waved back, it was like an adrenaline rush to me.”

 

Leighton Levy

Leighton Levy is a journalist with 28 years’ experience covering crime, entertainment, and sports. He joined the staff at SportsMax.TV as a content editor two years ago and is enjoying the experience of developing sports content and new ideas. At SportsMax.tv he is pursuing his true passion - sports.

Related items

  • CPL teams start to train as local players test negative for COVID-19 CPL teams start to train as local players test negative for COVID-19

    The players and staff who are resident in Trinidad & Tobago who are coming into the CPL cohort have all tested negative for COVID-19 and will join the tournament bubble at the official hotel over the coming days.

    The St Lucia Zouks squad and the members of the Trinbago Knight Riders squad, who travelled into Trinidad have tested negative for COVID-19 and they will begin training today, with other teams doing so in the coming days.

    Results from further testing of all other members of the travelling cohort are expected today after a second round of testing on Monday.

    “We have been extremely careful in how we have gone about introducing those who are resident in Trinidad & Tobago into the tournament bubble and these tests coming back negative is very good news for the tournament. We will continue to be vigilant to ensure the health and well-being of everyone, both inside the tournament bubble and the wider public,” said  Michael Hall, Tournament Operations Director.

    The tournament gets underway on August 18 and will see 33 games played at two venues in Trinidad. The first match will be played on September 10.

     

  • Healthy, confident Andre Ewers ready to run faster than ever Healthy, confident Andre Ewers ready to run faster than ever

    Andre Ewers is encouraged that better days are ahead following his fast 100m run in Jacksonville, Florida last weekend.

    The 25-year-old Jamaican clocked 10.04s to win his heat at the JAC Combined Events Championships, making him the second-fastest Jamaican this year. Julian Forte’s 10.03 set two weeks ago in Kingston, leads all Jamaican male sprinters for 2020.

    The time was also an improvement on Ewers’ 10.10 run in Clermont, Florida, at the end of July that took the young sprinter closer to his goal in this COVID-19-impacted season.

    “When I started to compete again the goal really was to execute, have fun and get a good run in and knock the rust off,” Ever said Monday. “After that, I told myself that I believe I can run sub-10 the next meet possibly 10.0x if I can find one.”

    The time took him close to his personal best of 9.98 that he ran in Tampa, Florida, in May 2018 and is proving to be a boost to his belief that another sub-10 run is not far away.

    “I believe I’m capable of it but, unfortunately, this may be my last meet for the year due to everything going on and the difficulties in finding meets,” he said. “Now, my focus is on the Olympics next year and working hard to accomplish my goals.

    “Even though my ultimate goal was to run sub 10, I look at 10.04 as a blessing, given the circumstances and lack of resources I have right now. I’m honestly pleased with the time.”

    During his final years at Florida State University, Ewers progress was hampered by persistent injury. He now says those days are behind him, thanks to the work of his coach, Ricky Argro.

    “To prevent injuries, my coach makes me do a lot of different kinds of pool workouts,” he said. “My health right now is really good. I’m healthy and I’m thankful for that.”

     

  • Moments In Time: The race that made Elaine Thompson Moments In Time: The race that made Elaine Thompson

    Elaine Thompson-Herah looks a woman who is back to her fabulous best.

    Early in an Olympic year, she is already producing very fast times and all things being equal where injuries and loss of form are concerned, she should be challenging for two Olympic titles in Tokyo next year.

    Thompson-Herah, not unlike a certain Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, rose from relative obscurity to beat the world and this may be courtesy of another great Jamaican in the field of athletics, her coach, Stephen Francis.

    Who can forget the World Championships of 2015 when Thompson-Herah, then just Thompson, finished second in one of the greatest women’s 200-metre races of all time.

    Just a year earlier, Thompson’s best over 200 metres had been 23.23, but she had shown promise over 100 metres, clocking 11.17 in 2014, before lowering that to 10.84 at a meet in Eugene not long before the World Champions.

    It was something of a surprise that she would not be contesting the 100 at the World Championships, with Francis setting her up to run the 200 in Beijing, China.

    Thompson had not run that many 200s and while Jamaicans were quietly hopeful that she could get on the podium, it was not a certainty.

    In May of that year, Thompson had run 22.37, but while quick, it was slower than the times of The Netherland’s Dafne Schippers and the United States’ Candice McGrone, who had run 22.09 and 22.08 seconds respectively at a Diamond League meeting in Monaco.

    That is until eight days after that meet when Thompson ran 22.10 to be hot on their heels.

    On the 26th of August 2015, Thompson cruised through heat 4 in Beijing to win in 22.78 seconds.

    For someone, who a year earlier hadn’t broken 22 seconds, she looked good.

    But Dina Asher-Smith of Great Britain was quick, qualifying with a personal best 22.22, while Schippers looked smooth, shutting down long before she would end her heat in 22.58 seconds.

    The race was wide open.

    On August 27, Thompson showed she was in just as good a form as the 22.10 personal best she had run earlier in the year, clocking 22.13 to get the better of McGrone, who finished in 22.26 to march into the final with the quickest time.

    Schippers with 22.36 was also comfortable, looking like she could go a lot faster.

    Asher-Smith was faster too, stopping the clock at 22.12 seconds for yet another personal best.

    The following day, Friday, August 28, 2015, produced, arguably the most exciting 200 the world had ever seen.

    Thompson, was out of the blocks in a hurry, running a blinding curve to leave everybody in her wake coming off the curve.

    The time was going to be fast. Very fast.

    But Thompson wasn’t at her strongest yet and though she has never run faster, she faded toward the end, with Schippers, using her formidable heptathlon strength to close like a train.

    Nobody else was in the frame.

    Schippers was closing and Elaine began straining, just at the line, the Dutchwoman dipped, the difference was .03 of a second.

    Thompson was second in 21.66 seconds, Schippers was a World Champion in a championship record 21.63.

    Another Jamaican, Veronica Campbell-Brown, with a season’s best 21.97, was also on the podium. The time, though not as quick as Campbell-Brown had gone in her life, was the quickest she had gone in a very long time, the experienced legs of the many-time world-beater, finding a way to get onto the podium.

    Behind Campbell-Brown, were McGrone in 22.01, and Asher-Smith, in a national record, 22.07.
    Though Thompson did not win, the race signalled the birth of a star.

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.