Friday 23 February 2018

Athletics: Bolt fears the Beast he created may devour him

Ian Chadband

He was doing his best still to sound like the humble apprentice to Usain Bolt's sorcerer, but after defeating the sprinting wizard twice in just three days at the Jamaican Olympic trials in Kingston, it does not wash any more. The 'Beast' that is Yohan Blake is now in pole position for gold at London 2012.

After handing Bolt his first defeat at 200m for five years, just 48 hours after hammering him over 100m, Blake seemed to know his place, insisting modestly that his training partner had not been 100pc right and thanking Bolt for his encouragement during practice.

Yet while he was playing the role of surprised understudy away from the track, on it he was showing the sports world that if Bolt is anything less than fit, flying and off to electric starts, then his attempt to become the first man to defend successfully both 100m and 200m titles at an Olympics will be buried by the driven figure improving every day on the University of West Indies track in Kingston.

Last weekend Bolt did not look quite right, and questions about his race fitness were also bound to be raised as he needed medical treatment on the track after the finish on Sunday.

It was a sight guaranteed to encourage not only Blake. The sensations in Kingston will have the vultures circling, ready to feed off the growing suspicion that Bolt, after his injury-riddled 2010 and false start in the 2011 world 100m final, is not in his extraterrestrial 2009 shape when he set his world records of 9.58sec (100m) and 19.19sec (200m) in Berlin.

Swoop

From the USA, Justin Gatlin and Tyson Gay, in the 100m, and Wallace Spearmon, who won the USA's 200m trial in a wind-assisted 19.82sec on Sunday, are ready to swoop.

Yet surely nobody can be gnawing away at Bolt's psyche quite like Blake, the 22-year-old identified by the champion three years ago as the boy who would one day challenge him for his crown, the kid he nicknamed the "Beast" because of his workaholic appetite for training.

Blake won the world 100m title last year but it felt as if it was by default as Bolt false-started and was disqualified. Perhaps now we know why he beat the gun; he knew he needed the sharpest start.

This time, he was not just defeated in a completed 100m race for the first time in two years; he was actually given a proper hiding, 9.75sec to 9.86sec.

Glen Mills, the pair's coach, said earlier this year that he did not believe either of his proteges gained an advantage through training with the other but the suspicion remains that Bolt may have been too accommodating. Has he helped create the beast which could now devour him? (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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