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Olympics take priority in Yohan Blake's quest for greatness

THIS is the world view according to Yohan Blake:

Jamaican sprinters Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Yohan Blake look forward to racing at the Sainsbury's Glasgow Grand Prix. Picture: Martin Rickett/PA
Jamaican sprinters Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Yohan Blake look forward to racing at the Sainsbury's Glasgow Grand Prix. Picture: Martin Rickett/PA

"When you're 'The Beast' and the second fastest man on the planet, there's a lot on your shoulders. People always want you to be at your best and to see a good performance. It's always good when you can give the crowd what they want. But sometimes you have to fall to get back up."

The Jamaican sprint star has arrived in Scotland to great fanfare and is set to compete in the men's 100 metres at the Sainsbury's Glasgow Grand Prix this evening. But he won't be sticking around.

Freshly returned from a succession of hamstring injuries, the second fastest man in history behind Usain Bolt has said he is not prepared to jeopardise his preparations for the 2016 Olympics in order to compete in the Commonwealth Games.

As a man not usually scared to voice an opinion, it is a topic, when raised, that saw 24-year-old Blake hiding sheepishly behind his hands and deflecting to his manager Cubie Seegobin for a response. "It's nothing against the Commonwealth Games - he has to do what is in his best interests," insisted Seegobin.

It was a viewpoint later echoed by Blake. "I had been looking forward to it because I'd never been before," he said. "It's something I'd love to have in my calendar. But I'm coming back from my injury and I'm looking to get back my footing.

"It will be good for me to run some races and get back to where I want to be. The Commonwealths will always be there and something I'll look forward to next time."

There has been talk of Blake erasing Linford Christie's 1993 record of 10.06secs on a Scottish track this evening. "It's not hard to run sub-10," he said. "When I get my footing right it will come. A few months ago I ran 10.0 with no pressure. Anything is possible if the conditions are good and I'm feeling good."

The double Olympic silver medallist will likely settle, however, for simply improving on his performance in the Diamond League meet in Lausanne a week ago, when he finished sixth in the 200m.

"I was feeling really good, but my body just shut down on me," he said. "It's not like I'm not running well. I feel really good. I don't know if it was lack of sleep; I left Jamaica and came here and there was a time difference. But I don't use excuses. It was just the better person on the day and my body wasn't feeling up to it. Coming back from adversity is what makes you a champion."

Blake said he planned to follow his coach's advice and "keep it simple" when he takes the start-line at Hampden. "I just want to execute my race," he said. "A lot of people are looking at times, but I'm not. When I execute a good race the times will come. What would make me happy is to get back in my winning mode and start feeling good."

Another Jamaican sprint legend on the comeback trail following injury is Olympic and triple world champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, who was in typically feisty mood as she fielded questions from the media ahead of her appearance in the women's 100m tomorrow afternoon.

Having missed the National Championships in June, the 27-year-old has been selected for her country's 4x100m relay team for Glasgow 2014 after submitting a medical exemption. Fraser-Pryce, who will be making her Commonwealth games debut, was sanguine when asked if she would have preferred the option of a berth in either the 100m or 200m.

"I don't want to say if I had the choice because I do have the choice," she said. "Even though I'm ranked within the top three as the rules say in my country, I think the three ladies who made the team are in their spots. I don't think I need to say 'OK, I want to run the 100m', because I didn't run at the trials.

"I'm still blessed and thankful that I was selected to be a part of the relay team. That is a big bonus. That's not what I wanted initially. I wanted to compete in the Commonwealth Games in an individual event, but it didn't happen. It would be very unfair to those three ladies who got their spots if I came along and said I wanted to run the 100m."

After the withdrawal of Mo Farah, the British team for this weekend's Grand Prix lost two further high-profile acts last night when Christine Uhurougu and Adam Gemili pulled out due to a lack of fitness.

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