KINGSTON, Jamaica (AP) — No posing, no salutes, no fist pumping. First, Yohan Blake fell to both knees and rested his head on the track. A bit later, he simply paced in front of the jam-packed grandstand at National Stadium and stared into the crowd, letting all those fans soak in a nice, long look.
This, ladies and gentlemen, is the man to beat at the London Olympics.
In a result that no longer feels like a surprise, Blake beat Usain Bolt in the 200 meters at the Jamaican Olympic trials Sunday, finishing in 19.80 seconds to edge the world-record holder by 0.03.
When it was over, Bolt was the first one to approach his training partner and buddy and give him a big bear hug. Moments later, Bolt was down on the ground, getting his right hamstring stretched out, while Blake was going through his understated celebration. At one point, he raised one finger to his mouth, as if asking everyone to “shhhhh.” But the fans didn’t listen. They now have not one, but two, legitimate gold medal prospects for the men’s sprints in London.
“Usain always gives me a lot of encouragement and tells me to keep coming to this race,” Blake said about the 200.
Boy, did he.
The win came two days after Blake, the reigning world champion at 100 meters, beat Bolt in the 100 by running a personal-best 9.75.
That was a shocker, but there were explanations — most notably the terrible starts Bolt got off to throughout the 100 heats and in the final, to say nothing of any doubt that might still linger over the false start that scratched him from worlds last year.
Bolt has always considered the 200, which better suits his lanky 6-foot-5 frame, his real work. And now, indeed, he has work to do there, as well.
As they approached the finish, Bolt was grimacing — or was that the hint of a frustrated smile? — as he looked to his left to see what very few thought possible earlier this week: Blake beating him to the line for the second time in three days.
“I can never be discouraged,” Bolt said. “I’m never worried until my coach gets worried, and my coach isn’t worried, so I’m OK.”
Said Glen Mills, who coaches both runners: “Usain, he has the experience, the ability, he has been there already. He might be a little off at the moment, but I’m sure when the time of delivery comes around, he’ll be on top of his game.”
The clock is ticking. As of Sunday, there were 34 days until the start of the men’s 100 heats at Olympic Stadium.
In the women’s 200, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce ran a personal best 22.10 seconds to also complete the 100-200 sweep. She’ll be joined by Sherone Simpson and two-time defending Olympic champion Veronica Campbell-Brown.
Fraser-Pryce took the world by surprise four years ago when she won the 100 at Beijing. Her next act could be this 200, her second-best event, where she beat Simpson with lots of room to spare, a 0.27-second margin.
“I’m still learning, you know,” Fraser-Pryce said.