Blake must wait

Published: Monday | July 20, 2009

Leighton Levy, Gleaner Writer

Yohan Blake

The rise of 19-year-old Yohan Blake to becoming the third-fastest ever Jamaican male sprinter presents a potentially interesting scenario for officials of the Jamaica Amateur Athletic Association (JAAA) as the 12th IAAF World Championships in Athletics looms.

In the last two weeks, Blake, who is coached by Glen Mills and who trains with Olympic champion Usain Bolt, clocked 9.96 seconds in Rome just over a week ago and 9.93 seconds in unfavourable conditions at the Areva meeting in France last weekend.

Praises for Mills

A confident Blake was full of praise for coach Mills and his training partner during a post-race interview in France last week when he intimated that he will somehow be selected to represent Jamaica in the men's 100 metres, most likely at the expense of MVP sprinter Michael Frater.

"I am in the team to Berlin but it's just to book my spot in the 100 metres," he told an interviewer when asked about what his plans were for the remainder of the season.

Frater has a season best 10.02 seconds that was recorded when he finished third in the men's 100 metres at the National Championships in June. Blake finished sixth because, according to him, he was having "psychological and mental problems". Frater's personal best of 9.97 was recorded in the Olympic finals in Beijing last year where he finished sixth.

But unless something extraordinary occurs between now and the time when the final entries are submitted, Blake will have to be content with being a member of the 4x100 metres relay squad that will no doubt be boosted by his improved performances.

According to the JAAA rules on selection criteria: "athletes placing in the 1st to 3rd positions in all events will be selected if they have attained the qualifying 'A' standard for the event ..."

In addition, a JAAA insider tells The Gleaner that a lot of things would have to happen for Blake to get to represent Jamaica in the individual 100 metres.

"He would have to walk over Steve Mullings, who was fifth and Marvin Anderson, who finished fourth, that's a big leap," the insider said. "He would have to be running really fast and the others would not have to be doing so well."

JAAA rules state that all athletes must maintain and prove their competitive fitness up to the time of the final entry date for the competition. Anderson is believed to be hurt. He failed to finish the men's 200 metres at the Lausanne Grand Prix on July 7. But Blake would also have to leapfrog Steve Mullings, who has run a personal best 10.01 this season.

Spot lost

The athlete who has already been selected would have to consent to giving up his spot, The Gleaner was told.

The JAAA insider also reveals that preliminary entries are already in with the final entries to be submitted by August 3, and Blake, the new under-20 record holder, is not down to participate in the 100 metres. He will, though, be a member of the relay team, getting the nod over Mullings and replacing Nesta Carter who ran the start leg when the Jamaican team shattered the world record when it clocked 37.10 seconds at the Olympics in Beijing last summer.