LIFE HAS CHANGED FOR NETHANEEL MITCHELL-BLAKE SINCE LONDON BUT HE CAN’T WAIT TO SEE WHAT HAPPENS NEXT, WRITES EUAN CRUMLEY
NETHANEEL Mitchell-Blake is used to speed. As one of the fastest men on the planet, it’s all part of the day job.
However, he does admit to being ever so slightly taken aback by the pace of change in his life after what has been a year to remember.
When he stepped on to the track at the recent Great North CityGames, he was introduced as a world champion – while the animated and generous reaction of the watching crowd was also indicative of a growing profile for a man who had not been widely known on these shores before this remarkable summer.
Whatever happens now, Mitchell Blake’s name – along with that of his fellow teammates CJ Ujah, Adam Gemili and Danny Talbot – has been indelibly inked into the history books following the 4x100m relay gold-winning performance which he anchored and brought the London Stadium crowd to its feet.
But this, you sense, could just be the beginning, particularly given the rapid learning curve the 23-year-old has experienced over the past couple of years.
“It’s life-changing in a good way, first and foremost,” says Mitchell-Blake – only the second Briton in history behind Gemili to have run sub 10 seconds for 100m and sub 20 for 200m – of the world championships afterglow. “After we’d won the gold and we had all these obligations I said to myself
‘how does Usain Bolt do this every day?’. That’s his life, every day! I’ve got even more respect for him now. It was already at the top but now it’s ‘hey man, hats off to you’.
“It’s calmed down now but I’ve just been trying to enjoy it. I think a lot of opportunities are beckoning and I’m making sure that I’m seizing the moment.”
Mitchell-Blake feels far better placed now to take those opportunities, too, having experienced both sides of the sporting coin in a short space of time.
“The last two years have really helped me in the sport and really helped me to mature,” he says. “Last year, for the Olympics, I was injured. Within roughly a two-and-half-month span, I injured myself about three times and all on the same
hamstring. I ran 19.95 (second on the all-time UK list) last year and then I had to miss the Olympic trials, I had to miss the Anniversary Games and I got hurt in the holding camp – I dropped a 20kg weight on my big toe (he didn’t get past the 200m semi-finals in Rio). So now, after this year’s success, I’ve experienced both ends of the spectrum and I can only learn from it.
“I’m always learning and that’s what makes me hungry, ready for the off-season. I can say to myself ‘well, you know what to do now’.
“Last year was really my first year of running world class times, this year was
“AFTER WE’D WON THE GOLD I SAID TO MYSELF ‘HOW DOES USAIN BOLT DO THIS
EVERY DAY?’ I’VE JUST BEEN TRYING TO ENJOY IT AND TO MAKE SURE I SEIZE
THE MOMENT” NETHANEEL MITCHELL-BLAKE
on being in demand
the young sprinter has enjoyed a year
Golden moment: leading home the 4x100m team