Fri | Apr 19, 2024

Blake sets sights on Paris after 60m bronze

Published:Saturday | March 2, 2024 | 12:10 AMKeith McGhie/Contributor
Ackeem Blake
Ackeem Blake
Rusheen McDonald
Rusheen McDonald
Natoya Goule
Natoya Goule
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GLASGOW, Scotland:

Ackeem Blake sped to Jamaica’s first medal of the 2024 World Indoor Athletics Championships after following American favourites Christian Coleman and Noah Lyles home in a hotly contested men’s 60 metres final yesterday.

The country’s latest in a never-ending line of superb sprinters marked his maiden global final with distinction, never quite ahead but never far behind the two Americans about whom there was much hype before their showdown.

Blake, still only 22, clocked 6.46 seconds, just two-hundredths behind 26-year-old Lyles with Coleman, who turns 28 next Wednesday, winning in a world- leading 6.41.

The young Jamaican says he intends to expand his repertoire to incorporate more 200m outdoors this summer, leading to another attempt to dethrone the USA’s dynamic duo at the Paris Olympics which begin at the end of July.

In a ‘matter of fact’ rather than boastful tone, the former Merlene Ottey High School pupil said: “Last year I didn’t get a chance but this time I did so. I went out there and did what I had to do. I gained a lot of experience from last year and the one before and I am now able to go out there and do what I have to.”

He is now looking ahead to the Paris Olympics in mid-year.

“My goal now is to go to the Olympics and medal but neither me nor my coach are putting any pressure on ourselves,” Blake said while adding that he has been doing more 200m in training to improve his strength.

Blake had cruised effortlessly through the morning heats and his semifinal earlier in the evening but neither he nor the other five finalists could match the fast-starting Coleman – now a triple world champion – or flamboyant showman and reigning world outdoor 100m and 200-metre global number one Lyles at Glasgow’s Emirates Arena.

CHAMPIONSHIPS

Earlier in the women’s shot final – the first competition to be completed – Danniel Thomas-Dodd was sixth with a season’s best effort of 19.12 metres in the fifth round. Canada’s Sarah Mitton’s lifetime best 20.22m took her to the first gold medal of the 19th edition of the Championships.

In the men’s shot put final, Jamaica’s Rajindra Campbell did not produce a legal throw from three attempts. The event was won by American Ryan Crouser with a championship record 22.77m.

Jamaica’s leading middle-distance runner Natoya Goule-Toppin says she is focused on getting into Sunday’s final after placing second in her 800m heat in 2:00.83.

The 32-year-old Manchester-born half-mile specialist chased Ethiopia’s world leader Habitam Alemu (2:00.50) all the way in a strong first heat of five yesterday to claim the runner-up spot ahead of Kenya’s Vivian Kiprotich.

“Today was my indoor season opener and I’m happy with two minutes, so I’m now focused on getting to Sunday’s final.

“I had to pull out of Millrose (part of the World Indoor Gold Tour) because of a knee injury but it has been a lot better the last couple of weeks, so now I’m here in Glasgow taking it one race at a time,” Goule said.

Rusheen McDonald can look forward to his first-ever World Indoor final final after defying the odds to record personal best times in both the heats and semifinals of the men’s 400m.

The vastly experienced McDonald, now 31, will go for gold at 4:10 p.m. Jamaican time today. He clocked 46.25 seconds for second in his heat and bettered that time with with another second place in his semifinal in 46.02.

“It was a good race and I enjoyed it although I lost my momentum when I had to brake (to avoid clipping Karsten Warholm’s heels) in the semifinals,” McDonald said. Warholm won the semifinal in 45.86.

The women’s 400m, also with heats and semifinals on the same day, proved to be a mixed bag for Stacey Ann Williams.

Williams endured a nervous 15-minute wait in the ‘Queue Room’ to see whether she would make the evening’s semifinal, having been forced back into fourth place in the second heat of four qualifiers during the morning’s opening session.

With only the first two to make the next round automatically, Williams’ time of 52.16 stood up and was not bettered in either of the following races.

However, in the semifinal she was less fortunate. She was eliminated after placing fourth in 52.72.

Compatriot Charokee Young (53.04) managed only third in her first round heat and did not advance to the semifinals.