A man of few words: rising sprint star Ackeem Blake intends to let performance talk at JAAA National Champs

By July 05, 2023
Ackeem Blake Ackeem Blake

It is said that the words coaches say to their athletes, and the words athletes say to themselves, greatly influence their performance. If that is anything to go by, then rising sprint star Ackeem Blake is set for another big showing at the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA) National Junior and Senior Championships –barring any mishaps.

The four-day Championships which is being used to select Jamaica's senior team to the World Athletics Championships, as well as teams to a few youth events, get is set to start on Thursday at the National Stadium.

Blake, has been the pacesetter in terms of his steady display of form so far this season, having dipped below 10 seconds in four of seven 100-metre races to date, which just about signals his readiness to challenge for a spot on the team to the World Athletics Championships in Budapest, Hungary, next month.

The 21-year-old, who opened his season with times of 10.05s, 9.93s and 9.99s in April, gradually upped the ante on May 21, when he clocked a wind-aided 9.87s in Bermuda, which may not have counted where achievements are concerned, but would have done his confidence a world of good.

And, so it did. He returned a week later and produced another impressive run, clocking a new personal best 9.89s at the USATF LA Grand Prix, in California. That time bettered his previous best of 9.93s that came at last year's National Championship.

However, his most recent performances at the backend of June, a 10.07s-clocking at the Budapest Quest meet inside the National Stadium, followed by 9.93s at the USATF New York Grand Prix, Blake said fell below his coach's expectations where execution is concerned.

"I never executed those races how my coach wanted, so we just have to go back to the drawing board and put in the work," Blake said in a recent interview during the National Championships launch.

A statement like that speaks volumes of the high standard both Blake and his Titans Track Club coach have set for themselves and, understandably so, as the quality of Jamaica's male sprinting took a nosedive since the retirement of the incomparable Usain Bolt in 2017.

But Blake, a former Merlene Ottey High standout is among those leading the revival having made it to the semi-finals at the World Championships in Eugene, Oregon in his first full season in the senior professional ranks.

With that experience under his belt, there is no limit to what Blake could possibly achieve this year and beyond, provided he stays fit and healthy. 

"I gained a lot of experience last year which was good for me so now I am just using that experience to be the best that I can be. So, I'm good, I am more relaxed and just having fun," Blake declared.

Given the fact that he placed third at last year's National Championship behind 2011 World Champion and the second fastest man alive, Yohan Blake, who is also his training partner, the Titans young star knows that taking the national title won't be easy.

Yohan Blake the reigning national champion, as well as Oblique Seville, who has been a bit low-key with a season's best 9.95 seconds and other top contenders –possibly Julian Forte, Bouwahjgie Nkrumie and DeAndre Daley –are expected to face the starter for Friday's final, and it is anybody's guess who will reign supreme.

Young Blake, being a man of few words, is intent on letting his performance do the talking on the track, which is when his true personality comes to light.

"Coach is just working on my start so I can go out there to have fun and do what I have to do that's it. So, I'm not talking (about expectations) right now, I am just going out there and time will tell," he ended.

Sherdon Cowan

Sherdon Cowan is a five-time award-winning journalist with 10 years' experience covering sports.

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