Impressions: Blake Beats Bolt!

July 2, 2012

Words and Photo by Erin MacLeod—

LargeUp contributor Erin MacLeod was at Jamaica National Stadium Friday night when Yohan Blake bested Usain Bolt in a stunning finish to Jamaica’s 100-meter Olympic trials. She posted a photo that really captures the shock and surprise of those in attendance—check the dude at bottom right—over at her Tumblr yesterday, so we asked her to speak about it.

Friday night, the unexpected happened. Yohan Blake beat Usain Bolt in the 100m final of the Jamaica Olympic Trials. (Asafa Powell, who reportedly hopped over to Miami for medical treatment between the initial afternoon heats and the semi-finals, took third.) Blake and Bolt aren’t bitter rivals—they are training partners and friends. But, for the crowd, it just didn’t seem right that world-famous Bolt had to play second fiddle to a speedier Blake. You can see from the photo taken in the packed bleachers that shock washed over the crowd. Cheering was subdued, and there was a fair amount of  jaw dropping and head shaking.

Underlining this fact was Blake’s triumph at the 200m final on Sunday. As he crossed the finish line, you could almost hear the rushed phone calls and frantic writing of journalists—folks who were sure that the London Olympic story would be about a man called Usain instead of this new fellow. Yohan Blake had hardly come out of nowhere, but he certainly doesn’t have the international recognition of “the world’s fastest man.” Of course, Bolt could regroup and come out on top a month from now. Especially if Jamaica has anything to do with it. From supermarkets to taxis to yoga classes the talk on Monday was all about how the party-friendly Bolt better not be seen in Kingston’s more happening night clubs or dances. “If Usain Bolt is spotted at Fiction, Quad, Privilege, Lucky 38 OR any club or party for that matter,” one fan wrote on Twitter, “plzzzzz unuh RUN him OUT!! Partying DONE!”

But whether it’s Bolt or Blake or perhaps even Powell, nothing will change the fact that the fastest folk come from Jamaica. Shelly-Ann Fraser Price, who won the women’s 100m and 200m Olympic trials, is looking good, and Veronica Campbell-Brown isn’t far behind. Dem likkle, but dem talawah indeed.