Ace Jamaican sprinter Yohan Blake on Monday lashed out at World Athletics chief Sebastian Coe for removing four events, including the 200m race from next year’s Diamond League.
“It has changed a lot, I am not going to lie,” Blake said in Mumbai, where he was promoting the upcoming Road Safety World Series.
Blake added, “The times we are running have slowed down, track and field is dying a little. If he [Coe] can take away the 200m and triple jump, I don’t know if he is trying to build it [track and field] or trying to kill athletics.
“That’s a stupid move he is making. He must enhance the sport, but he is killing it. It is just madness.”
Blake said he is eyeing nothing less than a gold medal in next year’s Tokyo Olympics, his last appearance at the quadrennial event. “It is going to be my last Olympics and definitely I am going for the gold,” he said.
The 29-year-old has two gold and two silver medals in the Olympics. “I have got plenty of medals in the past, but this will be the icing on the cake for me.”
Blake considers himself favourite to clinch the yellow metal in the 100m sprint at Tokyo. “I’m always the favourite, the second fastest man in the universe. Everyone has to look up to me. Definitely there are some good guys coming and I’ll be looking forward to the challenge,” he said.
“I think it is going to be epic, this is the greatest show on earth and everyone is looking for that blue-carpet event, which is the 100m,” Blake added.
The 29-year-old also said that he would start a programme in India to dig out talent. “I tell my West Indies cricketers they have to emulate India – Virat Kohli and all those sort of cricketers. Nothing wrong if they emulate us in sprinting,” he said.
“After the Olympics, I am going to start a programme in India to harness the talent here because I met some of them in Doha. There is a lot of talent in India. If we, as outsiders, come and show them what it takes to go to different level, that is going to be easy.”
‘Bolt can make athletics more popular’
On finishing second to the legendary Usain Bolt, Blake said: “If you take Usain Bolt out of the equation, I would have been the fastest man ever and won a lot more medals. I feel I was born in the wrong time [laughs]. But I’m happy with everything I’ve achieved. But credit to Usain, he worked very hard to achieve what he did.
He added: “I’ve learnt from Usain how to drive fear into people, how to be my best everyday. He taught me everyday that I was working hard for myself and my family, not for anyone else. He told me results will come if I enjoyed the process.”
Can Bolt still do something to increase the popularity of athletics? “I think he can,” said Blake. “I think he should. I don’t know what he’s doing, I guess he’s enjoying his life. But track and field can take many years out of your life, so I think it’s okay for him to relax a little.”
Blake remembered Bolt’s final race, which was at the World Championships in Qatar two year ago. “We were traveling to the venue in the bus and he told me he wasn’t sure he could run. His hamstring was hurting,” Blake said.
He added, “The moment I came around the corner to hand him the baton, I knew he wasn’t going to make it. He then grabbed his leg and I thought ‘there goes my medal’ [laughs].
“But he has done so much for Jamaica and the world so I forgive him for that one time. It was emotional for all of us to see him end his career on such a bad note. During the 2017 season, he was hardly training. I know that because I would train with him. He was partying a lot. He just didn’t feel the urge because it was the last race of his career. He told me he was just going to go out there and have fun. Whatever happens, happens. “