Akeem Bloomfield winning the 200m in London (© Getty Images)
In Eugene last June, rising Jamaican sprint talent Akeem Bloomfield blasted to a 43.94 performance to become the 18th man in history to dip below the 44-second barrier for the 400m.
Here, the 20-year-old focuses on shattered World Championship dreams for his low moment and the thrill of a scintillating 200m run in the IAAF Diamond league in London for his high.
“My lowest moment happened in 2017 after missing out on qualifying for the Jamaican team for the IAAF World Championships in London. All year I trained alongside my team-mate Nathon Allen with the main goal for the year making the World Championship team. However, at the NCAA Championships – just two weeks before the World Championship Trials - I picked up a hamstring injury.
“I was competing in the final at NCAA’s when I felt a sharp grab in my hamstring about 60 metres into the race. I didn’t want to stop, so I tried to run within my comfort zone for the remainder of the race, but I could only finish fifth in 45.13 (in a race won by Fred Kerley in 44.10).
“I had picked up a cramp in my hamstring and training for the next two weeks ahead of the Jamaican Championships was a real struggle. Then at trials, it just didn’t happen for me as I was eliminated by finishing fifth in my heat in 48.07.
“It took a long time to recover from the setback. I went into a huge depression that summer. I had to sit and watch my friends competing at the World Championships (including his teammate Allen who finished fifth in the 400m final) while I was home. I was so disappointed in myself, I went home to mum and cried. I felt like a failure.”
“My high moment came in the London Diamond League this year. To win the race in a personal best of 19.81 was an unbelievable feeling. I knew I could run that fast but to do so was an amazing feeling. Then when I was interviewed post-race and to be compared with Usain Bolt – a man who is the greatest sprinter to ever put on a pair of spikes - was a measure of how far I’d come.
“After a difficult 2017, which ended in disappointment, I took on a different mindset for the 2018 season. I put a lot more background work during the fall, I made sure I completed every workout. We did a lot more distance work and I tried my hardest to keep pace with my training partners and push myself to the limit under the coaching of Henry Rolle and Ralph Spry.
“I also made sure I eat healthily. I ditched the fast food at Wendy’s and Zaxby’s and cooked my own meals. Instead of going to bed after midnight, I made sure I went to bed at 10pm. I started hydrating properly. I knew if I wanted to run the kind of times I was capable, I needed to make some sacrifices. This has made a huge difference this season (where Bloomfield has run a 400m PB of 43.94 for second at the NCAA Championships).
“In my first 200m race of the season, I ran a personal best of 20.00 in Luzern, but I sat in the blocks for too long and my coach told me it was possible that I could run 19.90 or 19.80 in London. I was very nervous before the race. I was not used to running in front of such a huge crowd in a foreign country but to run a time of 19.81 gave me a big boost in confidence. I was happy with the performance but knew I could run faster. Once I build up more experience, I can think of the exciting possibilities that lay ahead of me. It is a wonderful position to be in.”
Steve Landells for the IAAF