Jerome Blake graduated from high school last year but he confirmed last weekend the promise he demonstrated in the 2014 Subway BC High School Championships. Jerome competed in Kamloops on May 16 and immediately sent waves around the country that he may be factor on the national scene in the near future. He improved his personal bests to 10.41(2.0) and 21.12(0.1) in the 100m and 200m. Jerome will get the opportunity to compete against strong competition at the Vancouver Sun Harry Jerome Track Classic at Swangard Stadium on Monday evening, June 8.
Over 400 athletes from 16 nations and 32 Olympians will compete for over $100,000 in prize money. Tickets are $10 general admission and $25 finish line and are available on line at www.harryjerome.com
Journalist, Howard Tsumura of The Province newspaper almost predicted this in his 2014 article which is seen below.
Rutland's Jerome Blake by Howard Tsumura, Vancouver Province 2014
LANGLEY — Jerome Blake arrived in Langley for the Subway B.C. high school championships last weekend, about as anonymous as is possible for a sprinter with bloodlines that flow directly from track royalty.
Yet about as fast as he bolted out of the blocks on his way to gold-medal winning performances in both the 100- and 200-metre races, the story of how the senior from Kelowna’s Rutland Secondary via Jamaica had become the fastest kid in Canada filtered through the crowd on hand at McLeod Athletic Park.
By the time the meet ended Saturday, Blake had been named the meet’s Most Inspirational Athlete, and for good reason.
While he is indeed a cousin of fellow countryman Yohan Blake, the silver medallist in the 100- and 200-metres at the 2012 London Olympics, his is not the story of young man who just naturally fell into a sprinter’s crouch to follow in the footsteps of a famous relative.
While calling his cousin an idol, Blake is busy coming into his own far away from his native country, one renowned as the mecca of world sprinting. So understandably, after winning the 200-metres on Saturday, he was hoping to be judged by his own accomplishments.
“I don’t really like people saying that just because I have a famous cousin, that is why I am fast,” he explained. “No. I am starting from the bottom and I am going to the top. I work hard and I execute my races.”
Like his famous cousin, Blake began his sporting life playing cricket.
“Then I moved to track and field,” he continues of his life in Jamaica. “So I am not new to track, but I am new to sprints. I was a long jumper and I did the hurdles.”
Prior to his Grade 12 year, Blake and his family relocated to the Okanagan from Jamaica. Not to soon after, he was spotted on the track in Kamloops by Okanagan Athletics Club head coach Pat Sima-Ledding.
“I met him last summer,” Sima-Ledding said in reflection earlier this week. “It was a little comical. He was just running around and he asked me if I knew anything about running. He joined our club and he has worked so hard.
“There is a lot of room for technical improvement, but that said, Jerome’s kinetic sense is very good. His ability to focus on those nit-picky things is fantastic. In a lot of ways, he is like a newborn. He’s got all the raw materials and now he is getting the direction. I guess to make a long story short, we’re tearing him down and building him back up.”
The tales of the re-construction have been nothing short of incredible.
From the wicket to the blocks, Blake has continued to lower his times at both distances.
“When I told her that I did hurdles and long jump, she said ‘No you are going to sprint.’” remembers Blake of a chat with his coach. “I have been working with her for five months now, and my 100 metres has gone from 11.95 (seconds) to 10.73. And my 200 from 23.36 to 22.29. So I am really proud of myself.”
The 10.73-seconds time in the 100 metres came at the provincial meet, while he won the 200 metres at 22.34.
While not slated to join a university team this coming academic year, Blake admits it’s an aspiration.
Right now, however, he is just soaking it all in, thrilled to have discovered his true calling.
As Sima-Ledding admits, he’s having fun.
And when it’s pointed out to her that a photo snapped at the finish line of the 100 metres at last week’s championships clearly shows Blake turning his head at the last instant to gauge his progress, the coach lets out a laugh.
“That is a pet peeve and we’re working on that,” Sima-Ledding says. “I remember at a local meet, he was running 400 metres, and I was cheering him on. He comes around the corner and in the middle of the race he turns and looks at me.
“I guess that just shows how relaxed he is despite the intense competition.”