What's your game plan?
Yohan Blake could have been lining up for the West Indies this summer as a fast bowler, but an early intervention by a high school teacher saw him swap his cap and cricket whites for a sprint suit and spikes and change his game plan to become the second fastest man in the world over 100m. We hear from Yohan Blake what motivates him, what injuries have taught him and how he’s happy to encourage upcoming talent in Jamaica.
This is Yohan Blake’s game plan.
Your first love was cricket. Did you learn anything from that team game that you take onto the track with you?
I learned how to be a gentleman. You know cricket, it’s a gentleman’s sport, so I learned how to be one. In cricket you have to dress a certain way, keep your shirt tucked in all the time, you wear a cap, you play with the mindset of a gentleman thanks to this uniform. I still play when I have time off.
Where do you get your strong work ethic from – family, coaches? Or is it an inner drive?
I think it is mostly from family and the desire to want them to be better. You know your mother: she wants a new house, she wants to live better. You create an atmosphere around you where you say listen, I have to take my mom out of that area, and you have to take yourself out of that. That’s where the hard work comes from.
Your hamstring has been a big problem over the past few years. Have you changed your approach to training to take better care of it?
Yes, I have. I’ve started to use a machine called the Human Tecar to warm up the muscles and also do a lot more band work to really stretch my muscles and strengthen certain areas. I’ve also changed the way I lift in the gym. In my new gym, I work on the development of power and the impact that has on the muscle.
You’re from an island steeped in sprinting glory. Are your rivals your friends and how do you separate the track from your free time?
It’s all about running. You don’t have any free time really. You know the little time you get off you have to spend on the beach, visiting your family. But yes, we are friends because we train together. We try to create a wonderful chemistry in training, but it is our business. We don’t get as much free time as normal people do.
Are you also an athlete off the track? Do you compete in everything you do?
I try to keep a competitive face. I always want to win, even in video games, and I always want to play against the best to keep that rivalry going, to keep that dominance. But you have to give others a chance as well. In that way I’m a motivator. A lot of the guys look up to me and talk to me about getting better, what they can do, how they can approach this. I would say I motivate a lot.