Published July 02, 2012
KINGSTON, Jamaica – When the latest upset that wasn't really an upset was over, Yohan Blake put one finger to his mouth and looked toward the stands — as if he were asking the crowd to simmer down.
No such luck there. The Jamaican fans were ecstatic. They now have not one, but two gold-medal prospects for the sprints at the London Olympics.
Blake made it 2 for 2 against world-record holder Usain Bolt, winning the 200 meters at the Jamaican Olympic trials Sunday in 19.80 seconds to edge Bolt by 0.03.
When they crossed the line, Bolt was the first one to approach his training partner and buddy and give him a big bear hug. Moments later, though, the World's Fastest Man was down on the ground, getting his right hamstring stretched out, while Blake was basking in an understated celebration. For nearly a minute, he simply paced back and forth in front of the packed grandstand, letting all those fans soak in the sight of their new national champion.
"I'm not surprised, because I was working real hard," Blake said of his back-to-back wins. "And I know Usain will work hard as ever. It's up to me to keep working hard and keep my form going into the Olympics."
The win came two days after Blake, the reigning world champion at 100 meters, beat Bolt in the 100 by running a personal-best 9.75.
That was a shocker, but there were explanations — most notably the terrible starts Bolt got off to throughout the 100 heats and in the final, to say nothing of any doubt that might still linger over the false start that scratched him from worlds last year.
Bolt has always considered the 200, which better suits his lanky 6-foot-5 frame, his real work. And now, indeed, he has work to do there, as well.
As they approached the finish, Bolt was grimacing — or was that the hint of a frustrated smile? — as he looked to his left to see what very few thought possible earlier this week: Blake beating him to the line for the second time in three days.
"I can never be discouraged," Bolt said. "I'm never worried until my coach gets worried, and my coach isn't worried, so I'm OK."
Said Glen Mills, who coaches both runners: "Usain, he has the experience, the ability, he has been there already. He might be a little off at the moment, but I'm sure when the time of delivery comes around, he'll be on top of his game."
The clock is ticking. As of Monday, there were 33 days until the start of the men's 100 heats at Olympic Stadium.
In the women's 200, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce ran a personal best 22.10 seconds to also complete the 100-200 sweep. She'll be joined by Sherone Simpson and two-time defending Olympic champion Veronica Campbell-Brown.
Fraser-Pryce took the world by surprise four years ago when she won the 100 at Beijing. Her next act could be this 200, her second-best event, where she beat Simpson with lots of room to spare, a 0.27-second margin.
"I'm still learning, you know," Fraser-Pryce said.
Bolt is supposedly beyond the learning stage. But now, the guessing game figures to take on Olympics-sized proportions.
Blake, Bolt and Mills all conceded that Blake came into these trials in better shape than the man whose marks — 9.58 and 19.19 — sit atop the record book.
So, was Bolt genuinely just coasting through into this weekend in front of all his home fans, making sure he made it, getting ready to defend his Olympic titles? Is his conditioning not up to snuff, and if so, is there time for him to get there? Or, might he be hurting, as it appeared when he was getting his leg worked on while lying on the track?
"I don't want to get into that," Bolt said. "I was just working (the leg) around for a few moments to get myself back together. I'm not far off. I can get it done."
Blake will be making his first trip to the Olympics, which can be a daunting prospect. After these pair of benchmark victories, he sounded ready for more work, not a celebration.
"It leaves me to get back into training," Blake said. "It's not over. I still have the Olympics to go."
On the other hand, if Bolt was feeling any sense that he had it made — well, he no longer has to worry about that.
He said Sunday's race was lost in the curve — the same curve Blake has been watching Bolt run for the past several months in practice, picking up tips, learning the nuances.
"I was very sad with my turn, it was awful, but I've been working more on the 100 meters," Bolt said. "I can't blame it on that, though. Just have to get my things together and get it done."
After Bolt's bad curve, he came into the straightaway with a deficit. Finally, over the last 50 meters, the Olympic champion started closing.
Like a racecar driver catching a glimpse of something lurking in his rearview mirror, Blake could see Bolt making up ground out of the corner of his eye.
The best ones know how to close things out.
"I felt him on my right-hand side. No need to panic," Blake said. "I just stayed focused."
Associated Press Writers Pat Graham in Eugene, Ore., and David McFadden in Kingston contributed to this report.