Test cricket track star’s interest

Usain Bolt and Yohan Blake
Usain Bolt (left) and Yohan Blake

Jamaican world sprint champion Yohan Blake will warm up for his Olympic 100 metres showdown with training pal Usain Bolt by watching cricket.

Blake, who is the main threat to Bolt’s 100m Olympic title on Sunday, is a huge cricket fan and used to skip school as a kid to bowl at a stick in the back yard.

And he admitted that rather than watch wall-to-wall Olympic sports while he is in the Athletes’ Village he will tune in to the Test match between England and South Africa which started at Headingley today.

Blake, who competes in the 100m heats at the Olympic Stadium on Saturday ahead of Sunday’s showdown, said: “Cricket is my first love. As a boy I’d rather have played for the West Indies than go to the Olympics.

“That was my dream. I’m going to be spending my time watching the cricket during the Olympics. When I’m on the track, I’m on the track.”

Instead of becoming the next Michael Holding he has become the man who has knocked Usain Bolt for six – not once, but twice – on the eve of the London Olympics.

Blake, 22, beat the 100m and 200m world-record holder over both distances at the Jamaican trials in June.

He also took Bolt’s world 100m title last summer after the Olympic champion famously false-started in the final and is the fastest man in the world so far this year, clocking 9.75secs at the trials. Bolt’s best this season was 9.76secs in Rome in June.

But, speaking at an event to show off his new adidas spikes, he said: “I’m not focusing on Usain, just on a good execution. If you think about others in the race you have lost it.”

Remarkably, it will be Blake’s debut at the Olympics.Four years ago he watched Bolt break the world record and win gold in Beijing at home in Jamaica on television.

He said: “Looking back at the last Olympics, I always wanted to be at the Games.

“This is every athlete’s dream. Just being around everybody I’m just feeling goosebumps.

“But experience for me doesn’t necessarily work.

“Everybody’s talking about ‘experience this, experience that’. For me it’s all about going out there and keeping focused and getting the job done.

“It’s not about beating Usain or anyone else. I’m just focused on executing a good race.”

Blake was given his nickname The Beast – which is stitched into his new spikes by Bolt after he moved to Kingston in 2008 to team up with him at the Racers Track Club. He said: “When I’m training I train like a beast. That’s why Usain gave me that name.

“That is how I work. When you guys are sleeping at night, I am out there working. That’s why they call me the Beast. I work twice as hard as everybody else.

“Usain and I are always friends. We joke around in training every day and have fun. We’re just keeping a good chemistry going on into the Olympics. But when everybody lines up on that start line it’s going to be different. It’s going to be all business. Each man for himself.”

Sunday is the 50th anniversary of Jamaica’s independence.And Blake admitted: “It would mean a lot to me to be standing on the podium as a Jamaican. You will probably see me in tears.”

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