The second fastest man in the world, Jamaican sprinter Yohan ‘the Beast’ Blake, not only runs for medals, he runs for causes too. The 100 and 200 metre Olympic medalist recently led a Food For The Poor 5K Walk/Run for Hunger held at Quiet Waters Park in Deerfield Beach, Florida.
A shining example of hard work and commitment, Blake founded YB Afraid Foundation in 2011 to help youngsters “achieve the unexpected”. Journalist Dawn Davis caught up to the sprinter who talked about life, athletics, and his desire to change the world.
How much of a commitment does it take to be a world class athlete?
You can’t live the life of a normal person. You have to be focused, you have to be dedicated, you have to be inspired. That’s what it takes for me.
How do you motivate and inspire the youth that look up to you as a role model?
First and foremost I have to be a good champion. I have to make them know my sense of humour. I have to show them different things, different sides of who I am. I am twenty-two and I have done great things. I won the World Championships, I won three medals at the Olympics. I am showing them what I am out there in the world to inspire them.
How do you get through to youngsters that are grappling with hunger and poverty, how do you reach them?
I am the cure for poor people. I am following Michael Jackson, I am starting with the man in the mirror. If I can start with me by helping two or three kids, it must spread. That’s why I started my foundation YB Afraid, to help poor people.
Was there a particular person, incident, or observation that triggered your desire to change the world?
Growing up was tough for me. I looked at my past life and realized I can make a difference, and that’s what I started doing.
What has been the lowest and the highest point in your life?
The lowest point in my life was when I didn’t go to the first Olympics. The highest point was being a world champion and also being at the 2012 Olympics. I am also proud of being able to help and inspire kids around the world.
What is your typical day like when you are training?
My typical day starts early in the morning at the weight room, then after the weight room I rest then onto the field for training. It’s a hectic day. Plus you have to meet with and deal with sponsors, the public, etc.
How do you deal with your celebrity status at home (Jamaica) and abroad?
I have good people around me, my manager, my mom so you learn how to balance it all. I’ve been dealing with it for a couple of years now and it does get hectic. Plus, with God in the mix I’ve learned how to cope.
Are you looking forward to the 2016 Olympics?
I pray to God everyday to keep me safe for the next four years. I have two world championships before that will lead into 2016. So, as long as I have God is in the mix and pray to Him everyday, plus with the help of my mom I will do what I am supposed to do.
What do you think makes Jamaica so special when it comes to athletics?
We have the hunger and we want it. We never say never. We are always pushing and we are talented.