In another time, Johan Blake might've been the world's top sprinter by his early 20s. But Blake is just three years younger than his training partner, Usain Bolt
, who began dominating the world sprint scene in 2008. Still, Blake's track record is impressive, including an occasional victory over his fellow Jamaican track star.
Cricket was Blake's favorite sport while growing up, and he continues to play cricket when his track schedule permits. The road to Blake's track and field career even began on the cricket pitch, when his school principal watched Blake bowl. The principal was impressed with the speed of Blake's run-up and convinced him to try sprinting.
Blake didn't begin taking track and field seriously until he was 16. The following year, he earned a bronze medal in the 100 meters at the World Junior Championships. He also earned a gold as part of Jamaica's victorious 4 x 100-meter relay squad. Blake gained a silver medal in the 4 x 100 at the 2008 World Junior Championships.
Blake began training with Glen Mills – who's also Bolt's coach – in 2008. Shortly thereafter, Bolt told a reporter that Blake was a rising star, adding that Blake “works like a beast.” The nickname stuck with Blake. One year after he started training with Mills, Blake became the youngest sprinter to dip below 10 seconds in the 100, running 9.96 in 2009.
Blake missed a chance to run on Jamaica's 4 x 100-meter relay team at the 2009 World Championships after he and four other Jamaican runners tested positive for a substance which was virtually identical to an already-banned stimulant. After a lengthy review process Blake and three of the other four received three-month suspensions.
Blake was considered a medal contender when he reached the 100-meter final at the 2011 World Championship. Bolt, of course, was favored. When Bolt false-started
, however, Blake took up the Jamaican mantle and won the race. Blake became the youngest World Championship 100-meter gold medalist, at 21 years, 244 days, beating out Carl Lewis, who earned a gold at 22 years, 38 days. Blake also ran on Jamaica's winning 4 x 100 relay team, which set a new world record.
Other Career Highlights:
Shortly after the 2011 World Championship, Blake ran the 200 meters in 19.26 seconds in a Brussels meet, which was the second fastest 200 in history to that point. Blake ran the 100 in 9.69 seconds in a post-Olympic 2012 meet, tying for third place on the all-time 100-meter list with Bolt and Tyson Gay
. Blake earned two individual silver medals in the 2012 Olympics, placing second to Bolt in both the 100 and 200. Blake ran the third leg of Jamaica’s gold medal-winning 4 x 100 relay squad, which finished in a world record time of 36.84 seconds.
- Height: 5 feet, 11 inches
- Weight: 168 pounds
- Birth date: December 26, 1989
- Hometown: Bogue Hill, Jamaica
- Personal best: 9.69 (100 meters); 19.26 (200 meters)