Usain Bolt, Yohan Blake fuel Jamaican dreamsGlen Mills, coach of reigning 100 and 200-meter Olympic champion and world record-holder Usain Bolt and world 100-meter champion Yohan Blake, sees future champions as a heritage of the Olympics.
Bolt’s heroics, expected to continue in August at the sprint events, and the excitement stirred by Blake, who won the world title last year after Bolt was disqualified, is already inspiring a new Jamaican generation.
“In Jamaica, track and field is almost a way of life. It’s a strong passion in our deep rich heritage,” Mills said.
“With that kind of early development, and the icons we have in the sport, athletes are more highly motivated. These are their heroes. They want to achieve what they have achieved.
“It has been the tonic that has kept our athletes performing at a high level year after year.”
Blake, who stunned Bolt over the 100 meter and 200 meter at the Jamaica trials, sees the chance to escape from poverty as more motivation for Jamaican youth to seek a sprint career.
“It’s the poor background we come from,” Blake said, when asked about the secret to Jamaican sprint success. “We always want something and we go for it.”
At the trials, two world leading times, including a stunning 9.75 seconds in the 100 meter and 19.80 seconds in the 200 meter, rocketted Blake into the spotlight and relegated Bolt to second billing.
Jamaicans have won 53 Olympic medals since first participating at the 1948 London Games - all but one of those medals coming from athletics and most of that haul coming from sprint events.
At Beijing, Veronica Campbell-Brown won her second consecutive 200-meter Olympic gold, helping a total Jamaican medal haul of a record 11 medals - a record six of them gold, including world record turns by Bolt at 100, 200 and in the 4x100-meter relay.
Bolt, Blake and veteran Asafa Powell are among the stars who give the Jamaicans the potential to sweep the 100 meter podium at London.
“It’s more than possible,” says Blake.
And Shelly-Ann Fraser hopes to defend her Olympic 100-meter gold, the first Olympic 100-meter crown for a Jamaican woman.
“The 100 meters should be center stage in athletics,” Mills said.