31st December 2017
WORLD CHAMPION MITCHELL-BLAKE 'OFF TO WORK' IN 2018
As far as celebrations go Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake (coach: Dennis Shaver) officially realising that he had anchored Britain’s 4x100m relay team to a first ever world title is up there as the most memorable of 2017.
That achievement wasn’t even the 23-year-old’s priority for the year, studying was, but with the books put away and the spikes permanently out Mitchell-Blake is determined to achieve individual success.
At those World Championships in London, Mitchell-Blake had placed fourth in the 200m following an impressive campaign to the final before teaming up with CJ Ujah, Adam Gemili and Danny Talbot in that unforgettable 4x100m relay.
The next 12 months offer three bites at individual international honours for Mitchell-Blake with the World Indoor Championships, Commonwealth Games and European Championships all lined up in a busy 2018.
Mitchell-Blake won’t have the burden of graduation either having completed his studies at Louisiana State University in the USA and, now a professional, he wants to add individual celebrations to those in the relay.
British record 🇬🇧
Fourth fastest 4x100m win ever ⏱
World champions 🥇
— BBC Sport (@BBCSport) August 12, 2017
“I really want to build on the success of 2017. I’m looking to get an individual medal on a global stage. The World Indoors, the Commonwealth Games and Europeans give me a chance to do that,” he said.
“It’s a profession now. It’s my career. When I left the house the other day I said ‘I’m off to work Mum’, she laughed at me. I understand that the career in the sport is short-lived when it’s compared to other careers so I have to make the most of it while the sun shines and embrace the opportunity I have to do something I love for a living.
“At university I didn’t have much time mentally to think about it. When I was at the track, I was focused but my main priority was graduating. Now my priority is having a successful career.
“I want to find the right way to balance it out without putting too much pressure on myself. Obviously it’s a demanding sport. It’s a performance sport. It’s an individual sport. You get judged on your times.”
Indeed Turkey’s Ramil Guliyev won the 200m final at the World Championships in London in 20.09 seconds, 0.05 slower than the season’s best Mitchell-Blake ran in May and 0.14 off his personal best clocked in 2017.
Times aside and looking at placings, it was an improvement on Mitchell-Blake’s Olympic debut at Rio 2016 where he reached the semi-finals, proving that he can compete for medals on the highest stage.
“To place fourth in the world isn’t easy, especially going into the World Championships after a pretty demanding collegiate season. Hopefully I can find a balance from going from college to professional,” he added.
“I won medals – that’s how we’re judged in the sport. I’m 23 but why not try now and reach the top. People in the past have done it – not that I’m comparing myself to anybody else – but I believe it can be done.
“I want to be the best. I don’t want to be a lane-filler. I want medals. That’s what you’re judged by and that’s what I’m capable of doing. I’m my harshest critic. I expect more from myself than probably anyone else out there. But external pressure doesn’t faze me. I control what I do more than anyone else.”
Mitchell-Blake’s profile has rightfully increased following the World Championships, the celebration helped, but his base in Baton Rouge in Louisiana is a sanctuary to concentrate on future success.
“Right after the Championships was pretty crazy. I was getting recognised in quite a few places. I was thinking ‘this is like being a celebrity. I’m not used to this’. But I enjoyed it and embraced it,” he said.
“I was able to go back to the States, get my head down and get back to training. I’ve been reminded of it. I’m trying to find a balance, just accepting what we’ve done but with the knowledge there is more to be achieved down the line.”