Yohan Blake
Yohan Blake

From a sweaty workout session at the synthetic track of University Pavilion Stadium early morning, to a hearty laugh with the FPJ staff at the office’s cosy conference hall, Jamaican sprinter Yohan Blake certainly made the day for many. It was an absolute honour to have you at home. Best wishes for the Tokyo gold. Until then, ciao, legend!

Mumbai: For a journalist who has not seen a sunrise for many years, waking up in the morning to take to the track was something very rare. There was a reason behind all this.

I had the chance to accompany legendary sprinter Yohan Blake, and being a sports writer myself, no way I was missing out an opportunity worth the gold – not the one Jamaican carries with pride, but a gold not any less worthy, at least to me.

Abhishek Karnani with Yohan Blake and Laura Person
Abhishek Karnani with Yohan Blake and Laura Person

Overlooking the railway track, the University ground in City’s Marine Lines was busy with young guns carrying out their usual morning practice. For a moment, I wondered if someone like the Blake would be comfortable sharing the track with others.

But, Blake is Blake. Nothing can come between him and his hardcore training. Like any other humble athlete, he managed to find for himself a small portion where he ran, effortlessly leaving behind the morning blues – something I am shamefully a victim of.

Yohan Blake in a jovial mood while answering the FPJ staff’s questions at the conference hall (below) Blake in different moods
Yohan Blake in a jovial mood while answering the FPJ staff’s questions at the conference hall (below) Blake in different moods

As after a quick 100 meter sprint he would wait to catch his breathe, his personal trainer Laura Pearson would remind him of the clock he needs to beat. Well, he would eventually. After all, he has beaten World’s fastest man Usain Bolt!

The Olympic medalist’s tall persona left many in awe. In no time, the word spread across and the stadium was filled up with young athletes and their parents occupying the empty stands.

The venue was also hosting the second day of ‘Sports For All’ athletic championship. And hence, the two-hour long training session had to be cut short.

Blake, happily vacated the track, and moreover, remarked: “Hey you know what? Let these guys run, I will sit and cheer for them.”The gold, that was within him, was there for anyone to guess.

He went on to interact with participating kids. He even gestured them the art of kicking off the starting block. He ran alongside the young athletes, cheered them, raised adrenaline of many, while the crowd lauded the world champion, a man down to earth in any walk of life.

Before he would leave the stadium, Blake joined the winners on the podium, presenting them with the certificates they deserved.

“I am privileged to meet Blake sir,” and u18 athlete joyfully told me, “Can’t believe I had the honour to shake hands with him.” He obliged every person at the venue, signing autographs on their T-shirts, the towels, and, their hearts.And as the sun set at the Arabian Sea, he was at the Free Press Journal office, concluding the hectic day it was.

Sporting a smile all through, he answered to all the silly questions by the FPJ staff.

The food he loves, the sport he watches, the favourite IPL team, and what not. All in all, it was an honour to have you aboard, Mr. Blake. From having a moment with you after your morning practice, to seeing you off at late evening, you certainly made my day.

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