“I love Icahn Stadium,” declared World Champion Yohan Blake on Tuesday, March 6, as he spoke to media from around the world about his plans to compete at the 2012 adidas Grand Prix on June 9.
“I want to make sure the fans enjoy their money’s worth.” Read more below to see what the superstar sprinter has to say about everything from Usain Bolt to the Jamaican Olympic Trials to why people call him “the beast.”
Here are just a few excerpts from Blake’s 35-minute call with reporters:
On what he’s looking forward to most in running in New York:
New York is a good preparation for me going into the Jamaican Trials and into the Olympics. I love running in New York. The people are really nice, the wonderful Jamaican people there cheering you on. I ran back there in 2010. I ran really well. I gave away my race, but I’m coming back now.
On if he’s trying to also do something great in New York, similar to Bolt’s first 100 meter world record in 2008:
I just want to go to New York and have a wonderful race. Depending on the conditions on the day, anything can happen. I’m not going out to stress myself and say, Ok Usain Bolt broke the record and I have to run just as fast. I just want to go out there on the day, have fun, make sure the fans enjoy their money’s worth.
On how training with Usain Bolt has turned him into the sprinter he is today:
Usain Bolt pushed me a lot in training due to the fact that if he has to take one, I have to take two. He’s helped me because I have to run even faster in training to keep up with his speed. He helped me a lot to prepare last year for the World Championships and the Olympics this year.
On how often to race before the Olympics:
Coach Mills knows what to do because he’s one of the best coaches in the world. He knows he can take me off at any time, and I’ll run fast. So I don’t think I need many races. Just like last year, I didn’t run many races going into Daegu, so think year I don’t think it will be really different. One thing I’m trying to work on is my start and the technical part of my 100m race because most of my races technical problems are at the start, and the first 30 meters is giving me problems. So basically I’ll be working on that for the London 2012 100 meters.
On the difficulty of the Jamaican Olympic Trials:
Yes at the Trials, all the guys are running really fast. Most of them are going to be in the 100-meter finals [at the Olympics]. It’s going to be a really difficult one because nobody’s spot is guaranteed, and you have to be ready on the day. I think it’s going to be a tough one in June.
On what winning the World Championships meant:
It meant a lot to me, knowing I’d been working really hard. For me to get a gold medal, also being the youngest World Champion ever, it’s really meant a lot to me and opened a lot of doors. Usain not running in the finals didn’t change anything, really. I was looking forward to running with him. We had been talking in training, we were going to lay it down there on the track. It was unfortunate. The false start was a big shocker.
Daegu, and my training, both really gave me a lot of belief going into this year in 2012 right now because I’ve run with all of these guys before, and I know what they can do. But I think this year is going to be different because Asafa is coming back into the picture, and I don’t think Usain will false start again. It’s going to be interesting. I have a good confidence level right now coming off winning the World Championships and ranking number one in the world in the 100 meters. I have a 250 percent confidence.
On if such a strong 200m race in Brussels last year causes him to change his focus in training:
This year I’m really focusing on my 100 meter. In the 200 meter, you can make mistakes and still run back, but the 100 meter you don’t have any mistakes to make. So I just want to work on my first 30 meters and get my start right.
On why they call him the Beast:
Why they call me the Beast, even when I have breaks, I still train. On Christmas break, Coach Mills has to call and say, you are on a break. You need to take some rest. That’s how I work. When you guys are sleeping at night, I’m out there working. That’s why they call me the Beast. I work twice as hard as everybody else.
The eighth-annual adidas Grand Prix, one of the premier track-and-field events in the world, is the sixth stop on the international Samsung Diamond League circuit, and the third stop on the Visa Championship Series. It will begin at 1 p.m. on June 9 at Icahn Stadium on Randall’s Island. For more information, visit the event website at www.adidasgrandprix.com and follow the adidas Grand Prix on Facebook and Twitter. When tweeting, use #agpny.