Sat, Jul 07, 2012 - Page 18 News List

Jamaica’s star sprinters inspire a new generation

AFP, KINGSTON

Glen Mills, coach of reigning 100m and 200m Olympic champion and world-record holder Usain Bolt, as well as world 100m champion Yohan Blake, sees future champions as a heritage of the Olympics.

Bolt’s heroics, expected to continue next month at the sprint events, and the excitement stirred by Blake, who won the world title last year after Bolt was disqualified, is already inspiring a new Jamaican generation.

“In Jamaica, track and field is almost a way of life. It’s a strong passion in our deep, rich heritage,” Mills said. “With that kind of early development and the icons we have in the sport, athletes are more highly motivated. These are their heroes. They want to achieve what they have achieved.”

“It has been the tonic that has kept our athletes performing at a high level year after year,” he added.

Blake, who stunned Bolt over the 100m and 200m at the Jamaica trials, sees the chance to escape from poverty as more motivation for Jamaican youth to seek a sprint career.

“It’s the poor background we come from,” Blake said when asked about the secret to Jamaican sprint success. “We always want something and we go for it.”

At the trials, two world leading times, including a stunning 9.75 seconds in the 100m and 19.80 seconds in the 200m, rocketed Blake into the spotlight and relegated Bolt to second billing.

Jamaicans have won 53 Olympic medals since first participating at the 1948 London Games, all but one of those medals coming in athletics and most of that haul coming in sprint events.

In Beijing, Veronica Campbell-Brown won her second consecutive 200m Olympic gold, helping a total Jamaican medal haul of a record 11 medals, a record six of them gold, including world record turns by Bolt in the 100m, 200m and the 4x100m relay.

Bolt, Blake and veteran Asafa Powell are among the stars who give the Jamaicans potential to sweep the 100m podium at London.

“It’s more than possible,” Blake said.

Shelly-Ann Fraser hopes to defend her Olympic 100m gold, the first Olympic 100m crown for a Jamaican woman.

“The 100 meters should be center stage in athletics,” Mills said. “The Olympics take center stage. I’m certain everyone will be looking to see what’s happening in London.”

Mills is counting upon his years of work with Blake to have already perfected flawless form, and the mental discipline and determination to hold off any rival.

“It’s important to train the sprinter’s mind. He has to believe he is unbeatable,” Mills said. “He has to see it. He has to believe it. He cannot have any anxiety. He must be in total control.”

“He must focus. He must have explosive strength while blocking out everything else. Any interference in the transfer from the brain to the muscles will not help that explosive strength. You have to have that all-conquering mind,” Mills added.

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