Updated 02 August 2012
Keston BLEDMAN, Trinidad and Tobago (100m/200m/4x100m)
Born: 08 March 1988, San Fernando, Trinidad
Lives: Claxton Bay, Trinidad & Clermont, Florida, USA
Coach: Gunness Persad, Lance Brauman
Manager: Chris Layne
Keston Bledman is an Olympic silver medallist, the Trinidad and Tobago sprinter having performed leadoff leg duties in the men’s 4x100 metres relay at the 2008 Beijing Games.
He describes the second-place finish as his “biggest achievement to date”.
Bledman added Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Senior Championship men’s 100 metres gold to his medal collection, at the 2011 edition of the meet, in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico.
Earlier in the 2011 season, he had joined the sub-10 club, clocking 9.93 seconds at the National Training Centre Sprint Series meet, in Florida, USA.
“It’s a great feeling, as this was one of my goals growing up in track and field.”
In his build-up to the London Olympics, Bledman has produced three more legal sub-10 runs: 9.89 seconds in Florida, USA on May 26, 2012; 9.93 at the adidas Grand Prix in New York two weeks later; and 9.86 in Port of Spain, Trinidad on June 24, the personal best clocking earning him gold at the 2012 National Open Championships.
The 24-year-old sprinter is now joint-second, with quadruple Olympic medallist Ato Boldon, on the all-time T&T performance list, just behind double Olympic silver medallist Richard Thompson (9.85).
Had Bledman not had a burning desire to see his mother, Visca Bledman, he might not have been a sub-10 sprinter, an Olympic medallist or a CAC champion.
“She moved to the United States of America when I was five years old. Up to the time that I started running track I did not have a US visa, and I realised that the only way to get to see my mother was if I continued to run well and make national teams.”
That desire to reconnect with his mother has resulted in a successful track career.
“My current coach, Mr. Gunness Persad recruited me into his club, Simplex, after he saw me running at a sports day for Pleasantville Senior Comprehensive, and I never looked back since.”
In his very first international outing, Bledman earned precious metal, the Trinidad and Tobago sprinter bagging bronze at the 2005 World Youth Championships, in Marrakech, Morocco.
In 2006, Bledman enjoyed a successful campaign on the regional junior circuit, earning silver at both the Carifta Games and the CAC Junior Championships.
At the Carifta meet, in Guadeloupe, Bledman finished second to Jamaica’s Remaldo Rose in the boys’ under-20 100 metres final. And running in front of his home crowd, at CAC Juniors, Bledman was beaten to the line in the century by another Jamaican, Yohan Blake.
At the World Junior Championships, in Beijing, China, Bledman finished seventh in the final. Blake and Rose were third and fourth, respectively.
In April 2007, Bledman saw Blake’s back once again, finishing second to the Jamaican in the Carifta Games boys’ under-20 100 metres final, in the Turks and Caicos Islands.
But three months later, Bledman enjoyed the last laugh. Competing in his final under-20 meet, the Pan American Junior Championships, in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Bledman struck gold, forcing Blake to settle for silver.
In 2008, Bledman got his first taste of Olympic glory. But climbing the podium in Beijing was a bitter-sweet occasion.
“The passing of my grandmother (Averne Joseph) just before the Olympic Games (was my biggest disappointment). She always told me that one day I would win an Olympic medal, and it was disappointing that she was not present to see me receive my medal.”
Bledman is a family-focused young man. In fact, he says his biggest interest outside of track and field is “being with family, loved ones and close friends”.
Bledman appreciates the encouragement he got early in his career from his mother and grandmother, as well as his father Kenny Bledman and sister Racine Bledman.
His parents continue to be a great source of inspiration.
“They always support me no matter the outcome of the race, and they continue to push me to become a better athlete.”
Bledman is also motivated by the expectations of some of his neighbours, in Union Village, Claxton Bay, Trinidad.
“The older folks in the community look to me to be a role model to the younger kids. This gives me inspiration to be a great athlete.”
At the 2009 World Championships, in Berlin, Germany, Bledman was not part of the Trinidad and Tobago team that seized silver in the men’s 4x100 metres final. He had the satisfaction, though, of helping his country secure a lane in the championship race. In the qualifying round, Bledman combined with Darrel Brown, Marc Burns and Thompson for victory in heat one.
There were clear signs in 2010 that Bledman could become one of the best sprinters in the world. He clocked 10.01 seconds to finish second in the “B” race at the adidas Grand Prix, in New York, and two weeks later, was second to Thompson at the T&T Championships, in 10.03.
“My biggest goals (in 2010) were to settle down seriously, train harder and to get a better understanding of the sport of track and field. I have achieved them all.”
In October 2009, Bledman travelled to Florida to start training in the Lance Brauman camp. However, he did not cut off ties with Persad, and has been back and forth between Trinidad and Florida. The sprinter says each coach plays an important role.
“The people mainly responsible for my success are God, Gunness Persad and Lance Brauman.”
At the 2011 World Championships, in Daegu, Korea, Bledman came within a hair’s breadth of securing a lane in the 100 metres final. He finished fifth in the first semifinal in 10.14 seconds—the same time produced by fourth-placed Daniel Bailey, of Antigua. Bailey qualified for the eight-man championship race as the second of two “fastest losers”, while Bledman was ninth overall.
But even before his Daegu run, Bledman was thinking about the London Olympics, setting himself a goal.
“To be in the 100 final and to medal.”
Given his London aspirations, it’s no surprise that Bledman’s only idol in the sport is Trinidad and Tobago’s lone Olympic gold medallist, Hasely Crawford, the man who bolted to victory in the 100 metres dash at the 1976 Games, in Montreal, Canada.
Bledman would love to follow in Crawford’s footsteps. It will be no easy task, though. The 100 metres field is packed with quality—defending champion Usain Bolt, his Jamaica teammates, Blake and Asafa Powell, Americans Tyson Gay and Justin Gatlin, Thompson, and more.
Blake, the 2011 World champion, defeated Bolt at the Jamaica Olympic trials, and is considered by many to be the favourite for gold in London.
Bledman, though, knows how to beat a favourite. What’s more is that he knows how to beat a favourite carrying the name Yohan Blake. The T&T sprinter did it at the 2007 Pan Am Juniors, and is keen to do it again.
In addition to Olympic glory, Bledman is eyeing Thompson’s T&T record - 9.85 seconds.
And Bledman’s career goal is “to achieve everything possible that a sprinter could achieve”.
“I am eager to be the best athlete that Trinidad and Tobago has ever produced. I believe I could run 9.7.”
100: 9.86 (2012)
200: 20.73 (2008)
100/200: 2005: 10.48; 2006: 10.32/21.47; 2007: 10.14, 10.05w; 2008: 10.18/20.73; 2009: 10.10; 2010: 10.01, 9.93w/21.30; 2011: 9.93/20.91; 2012: 9.86, 9.85w/21.01w
2005 8th (100) Carifta Games U20 (Bacolet) 10.79
2005 3rd (100) World Youth Championships (Marrakech) 10.55
2005 7th (100) Pan Am Junior Championships (Windsor) 10.64
2005 4th (4x100) Pan Am Junior Championships (Windsor) 40.81
2006 2nd (100) Carifta Games U20 (Les Abymes) 10.57
2006 2nd (100) CAC* U20 Championships (Port-of-Spain) 10.39
2006 7th (100) World Junior Championships (Beijing) 10.47
2006 4th (4x100) CAC* U20 Championships (Port-of-Spain) 40.80
2007 2nd (100) Carifta Games U20 (Providenciales) 10.41
2007 1st (100) Pan Am Junior Championships (Sao Paulo) 10.32
2007 2nd (4x100) Pan Am Junior Championships (Sao Paulo) 40.11
2007 4th (4x100) Pan Am Games (Rio de Janeiro) 39.23
2008 1st (4x100) CAC* Championships (Cali) 38.54
2008 2nd (4x100) Olympic Games (Beijing) 38.06
2009 6th (100) CAC* Championships (Havana) 10.29
2009 1st (4x100) CAC* Championships (Havana) 38.73
2010 4th (100) NACAC** Under-23 Championships (Florida) 10.19
2010 7th (100) CAC* Games (Mayaguez) 10.32
2010 1st (4x100) CAC* Games (Mayaguez) 38.24
2011 1st (100) CAC* Championships (Mayaguez) 10.05
2011 2nd (4x100) CAC* Championships (Mayaguez) 38.89
2011 6th (4x100) World Championships (Daegu) 39.01
* CAC = Central American & Caribbean
**NACAC = North America, Central America & Caribbean
Prepared by Kwame Laurence for the IAAF “Focus on Athletes” project. Copyright IAAF 2012