DIF­FER­ENT WORLD

LIFE HAS CHANGED FOR NETHA­NEEL MITCHELL-BLAKE SINCE LON­DON BUT HE CAN’T WAIT TO SEE WHAT HAP­PENS NEXT, WRITES EUAN CRUMLEY

Athletics Weekly - - The Big Feature - PIC­TURES: MARK SHEAR­MAN & DAN VER­NON

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

Netha­neel Mitchell-Blake:

the young sprinter has en­joyed a year

to re­mem­ber

Golden mo­ment: lead­ing home the 4x100m team

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.