Blake, the 2011 World Champion at 100 meters, was joined by three other great athletes: Allyson Felix, Kelly-Ann Baptiste and Sanya Richards-Ross. Felix and Baptiste will face off at 100 meters in a deep and fast field that features the three top women of 2012—Carmelita Jeter (10.81), Baptiste (10.86) and Felix (10.92)—while Richards-Ross will use the 200 meters as a measure of whether to double at 200 and 400 meters at the U.S. Olympic Trials later this month.
Felix, the three-time World Champion at 200 meters who is planning either a 100/200-meter or 200/400-meter Trials double, praised the deep field here, saying that she thrives on the competition. “To have a race with this many top-caliber athletes is just the most exciting thing,” she said. “It teaches you to run under pressure and when you’re talking about 100 meters anything little thing going wrong can cost you the race, so this is just a great test.”
Strong at all three distances, Felix was asked if she has ever considered tripling. Yes, she has: “If time permitted, I think that would be the coolest thing,” she said with a huge smile.
Baptiste, of Trinidad and Tobago, is also looking forward to the race, although her gaze is directed inward. “It’s the nature of my event that when you step on the line you can beat any given women on any given day,” said the 2011 World Championships bronze medalist. “For me, it’s more that if I execute my race plan in a way that gives me the greatest chance of winning, that’s what I think about.”
For Richards-Ross, it’s all about getting back to where she was in 2009, when she won the IAAF World Championships at 400 meters. Her 400-meter time in winning the Prefontaine Classic last week, 49.39, was her fastest since that magical year. But she doesn’t plan to stop there.
“I always find that my 400 gets better when I have a fast 200 under my belt,” she said. “So that’s the number one goal, to get my speed up and hopefully lower my PR this year in the 200 as well because I think that will help me to lower the 400. I’m definitely going to go back with Coach [Clyde Hart] after this race if it goes really well and decide if I do want to attempt a double at Trials.”
Blake said that his main goal for the year isn’t a World Record—although with the right conditions, he added, “anything can happen”—but to end the season undefeated. By definition, that would include an Olympic gold medal, in the process defeating his friend and training partner Usain Bolt.
“We have a wonderful chemistry,” said Blake. “People think the two of us can’t stay in one camp, but it works out fine.” Nonetheless, he added, “Everyone wants to be the number one guy.”
Asked if he and Bolt ever raced in other in practice for the World Record, Blake chuckled.
“Sometimes we have fun, yes.”