Is Bolt paving a path for Blake?
André Lowe, Senior Staff Reporter
The Jamaica Gleaner
Sunday | September 18, 2011
Jamaica's Usain Bolt (right) and Yohan Blake in a party mood after Jamaica set a world record
of 37.04 seconds in the men's sprint relay at the IAAF World Championships earlier this month. - AP
The very foundations of sprint deity Usain Bolt's supremacy were shaken on Friday, after his protégé Yohan Blake surprised many - including the big Jamaican - by powering to a 19.26 seconds clocking in the 200m at the IAAF Diamond League curtain-closer in Brussels, Belgium.
It was the second-fastest time ever over the distance; bettered only by Bolt's 19.19 world-record run posted at the 2009 IAAF World Championships in Athletics in Berlin, Germany.
For Blake, it was the perfect end to the final three weeks of his 2011 season, after his 100m triumph at this year's 'Worlds' in Daegu, South Korea, which, ironically, came after Bolt was disqualified for false starting the final.
Blake on the rise
It was also a baptism of sorts for the 21-year-old and a strong statement to those who were convinced that his Daegu triumph came by default given Bolt's absence.
The question that now lingers is would Blake have got the better of his more celebrated training partner in Daegu? It's a question that will continue to linger until the two meet next, perhaps at next year's Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association/Supreme Ventures National Senior Championships and at the Olympic Games in London. The two have been kept away from each other in 2011, and it will not be a surprise if the same is done leading into next summer's spectacle.
"That's amazing for me. I'm shocked he did so well," Bolt told reporters after watching his good friend threaten his world record, a mere seven hundredth of a second faster.
"I've seen him run a couple of 200m and he's run them badly. I told him to take it easy round the bend. He ran a wild time," Bolt added before joking: "This is where the tutoring stops."
"Lessons taught ... lesson well received, on to next year," Bolt tweeted on Saturday.
Glen Mills, the man who conditions both athletes, must be far less surprised, as he had assured all that young Blake would come good at the World Championships, following his second-place finish at the national trials in June.
"Come World Championships, we will see the best from Yohan as I expect a lot of fireworks from him," Mills said during an exclusive interview with Gleaner reporter Raymond 'KC' Graham.
The jaw-dropping run in Brussels was bound to happen sooner or later, given the immense promise shown by the former St Jago High School star athlete during his years as a junior athlete.
Blake, whose 10.11 seconds remains the current national junior record over 100m - a time he registered as a 17-year-old, had by then also broken the 21-second barrier in the 200m with a best of 20.62.
Comparatively, Bolt was already running 20.13 at this stage of his development and soon afterwards, lowered his personal best to a mind-blowing 19.93 - four months before his 18th birthday.
Blake, the 2005 IAAF World Youth Championships 100m bronze medalist, really took things to another level two years ago in Paris, where he dipped below 10 seconds for the first time in a 100m, clocking 9.93 while still only 19 years old.
Many close times
Last year, the 20-year-old Blake improved his 200m mark to 19.78, just three-hundredths of a second slower than Bolt's 19.75 personal best at that age.
A day before his 22nd birthday, Bolt sped to a world record 19.30, while Blake's 19.26 came three months before his 22nd birthday.
Over 100m, the similarities are also stark, with Blake running faster times than the Olympic champion at this age. At 20 years and 11 months, Bolt, who was just beginning to 'fool around' with the event, had gone 10.03 while Blake had already registered a staggering 9.89 seconds. While approaching 22, Bolt's best mark was 9.69, which gave him a world record and gold medal in Beijing while at the same stage, Blake's best currently stands at 9.82 - a time he posted twice in a three-day span earlier this month.