SALVO, North Carolina, (Reuters) – One is the world’s fastest man. The other wants to be.
Triple Olympic champion Usain Bolt and his training partner Yohan Blake are the world’s best 100 metres sprinters. But who will wind up fastest this year?
Coach Glen Mills, is not yet ready to make the call.
Mills told an international teleconference on Thursday that although Bolt, 25, has run faster and won a bucketful of gold medals, Blake, three years his junior, was at the beginning of his career.
“So they are not at the same point in their career. One is advanced and one is starting,” Mills said. “But they are two exceptional athletes.”
Mills said the pair were also different types.
“Bolt is more of a sprinter who has a wider range. He can run from 100 to 400 at any level,” said the coach. “Yohan does not have that range.”
Bolt topped his record breaking 2008 Beijing Olympic performance by lowering the world record in the 100 to 9.58 seconds and the 200 record to 19.19 at the 2009 world championships.
Blake has bests of 9.82 and 19.26 seconds and grabbed the world 100 metres title last year in a race where Bolt false-started. Late in the season Blake then ran the second-fastest 200 ever.
The pair will get serious about their runup to the London Games at a May 5 invitational meeting in Kingston but they will not race each other.
Bolt will test his preparations over 100 metres while Blake will focus on the 200.
“I expect (Usain) to do well,” Mills said of Bolt, who has only run one relay this season. “He is in good shape.”
Bolt’s chronic back problems are a fact of life and are dealt with daily in warmups.
“The problem is not going away,” Mills said.
The lanky world record holder and his younger team mate are not expected to clash until the late June Jamaican Olympic trials where both are expected to run the 100 and 200 metres. Whether Blake, like Bolt, will attempt to run both in London, will not be determined until after the trials, Mills said.
They will also follow different routes in preparing for the showdown.
After the race in Kingston, Bolt will be off to European competitions in Ostrava, Rome and Oslo. Blake will remain in North America, running in the Cayman Islands, New York and Edmonton.
“Yohan had some problems in competitions last year leading up to the trials,” Mills said. “So we thought this being the Olympic year we would not make him travel too far (before the Games).
He showed the home life is agreeing with him with a blazing run of 9.90 seconds earlier this month. No man has ever run faster so early in the season.
Yet Blake’s greatest potential could be in the 200, where only Bolt has been faster.
“His 200 metres is going to be a dominant part of his sprinting,” Mills said.