MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Next month’s Commonwealth Games will be Yohan Blake’s chance to build on Usain Bolt’s “legacy” and step out of the track great’s shadow, the former 100 meters world champion said on Sunday.
Bolt retired last year with eight Olympic and 11 world championship gold medals to his name, leaving his former training partner Blake to carry the flame for Jamaica.
“Usain Bolt has left his legacy for us to carry on and that’s what we want to do,” Blake told local media after landing in Australia for the April 4-15 Games on the Gold Coast.
“That’s what I want, to start with the Commonwealths, to take over the dominance of the sprinting world.”
The 28-year-old Blake won his only individual global title in the 100m at the 2011 world championships when Bolt was disqualified in the final, but has three other gold medals as a member of the Jamaican 4x100m relay team.
He has yet to win any kind of medal at the Commonwealth Games but Bolt, who ran the relay at his only Commonwealths appearance in Glasgow four years ago, joked there would be trouble if Blake did not succeed when the athletics program begins April 8.
“Usain Bolt was at the track in Jamaica before I left,” said Blake. “He said, ‘if you don’t win there is going to be problems’.
“I don’t have a Commonwealth medal. It’s very important for me to have one in my trophy case.”
Blake, who finished fourth in the 100m at the Rio Olympics, was in top form last year heading into the world championships in London and qualified third fastest for the final.
However, he was shut out of the medals by Bolt, who took bronze behind winner Justin Gatlin and Christian Coleman. Blake also failed to make the 200m final in a surprise.
The absence of Canada’s Andre De Grasse makes Blake a leading contender in both the sprints, though he will have stiff competition in the 100 from Adam Gemili, the Glasgow silver medalist, and another Englishman in Zharnel Hughes in the 200.
“It will be a better year this one and I want the Commonwealth Games to set the year up for me,” Blake said.
“We are ready to go. My body is great. Australia is where it all begins.”
Reporting by Greg Stutchbury in Wellington; Editing by Ian Ransom