After what will be his last Olympics, Jamaican sprinter Yohan Blake will turn his attention towards developing the next generation of athletic stars.
But not in the Caribbean - instead he will do it in India.
“(It’s) not just Mumbai. I’m targeting Delhi, Pune, Bangalore and Kolkata (as well). These are the cities we are going to draw talent from every city, event by event. And we are going to do it in stages, after the Olympics. Two weeks after the Olympics, I am coming to India and we are going to do that,” the 29-year-old revealed at a promotional event in Mumbai.
Yohan Blake: end of an era?
Blake’s exit from competitive running will also mark the end of a generation that saw Jamaica produce some top-quality sprinters like 'Sprint King' Usain Bolt and Asafa Powell, as well as the two-time Olympic gold medallist.
With the 'old guard' of sprint talent now hanging up their spikes, Blake believes the younger generation are finding it difficult to live up to the standards set by their predecessors.
“There is more (young talent in Jamaica) but I don’t think they are motivated as we were before. Usain (Bolt) brought a different level of athletics to Jamaica and to the world. I always followed in his footsteps. And it even started from Asafa (Powell). The females are still doing well but I think I have to be taking up the mantle as there is no one in Jamaica who is sprinting like me,” he said.
Having run all his career in the shadows of the sprint great Bolt, Blake is often remembered as the man who teamed up with Bolt to add to his legacy. But it’s not a tag that was disturbing him much. “I would be the fastest man in everything. I feel like I was born at the wrong time," he joked.
"But nevertheless, I am happy with what I have achieved. It would be hard to top Usain because it was his time and it was hard to compete against him. The first time I beat him in Kingston, I had to work day and night to do it,” said the Jamaican.
Yohan Blake on Hima Das
Throwing light on his expectation from Indian youngster Hima Das, Blake said that he was confident that the Indian could soon put her injury woes behind and get back to her best to make it to the Tokyo Olympics in time.
“I met her (Hima Das) in Australia, during the 2018 Commonwealth Games. I spoke to her, a very good person. I’m sure she will come back stronger."
The likes of Blake and Bolt exude character and confidence on the track. Traits that the sprinter believes the Indian athletes need to start building.
“I just feel that they should believe in themselves more. That’s one of the things I want to do once I come here, spread awareness about believing in themselves more and work harder. I work day and night to stay at the top. You have to work three times as hard as me and that’s what I am after,” said Blake.