Jerome Blake of Kelowna, B.C., surged down the straightaway to edge American Elijah Hall at the finish line in a winning time of 20.14 seconds in the men's 200 metres at the 61st Ostrava Golden Spike track and field meet on Tuesday in the Czech Republic.
Blake's performance into a slight headwind on a comfortable evening was slightly faster than his wind-assisted 20.25 at the Diamond League season opener earlier this month in Doha, Qatar, where he was sixth, and a bit slower than his fourth-place season and personal best of 20.04 on April 16 at the USATF Golden Games in Walnut, Calif.
It was the also the 26-year-old's first victory in a 200 final since July 7, 2019 at the BC Athletics Championship Jamboree in Kelowna.
Blake, who was born in Buff Bay, Jamaica and relocated with his family to the Okanagan region in B.C. a few years ago, is scheduled to race his fourth 200 of the season at this Sunday's Diamond League meet in Rabat, Morocco.
WATCH | Blake clocks 20.14 seconds in men's 200m, topping field in Ostrava:
Zharnel Hughes of Great Britian was third on Tuesday in 20.29 and Brendon Rodney of Etobicoke, Ont., fourth in 20.34. The 30-year-old Rodney earned 100 relay bronze with Blake at last summer's Tokyo Olympics, a medal recently upgraded to silver after Great Britain was disqualified following CJ Ujah's doping violation.
Rodney, who was the only athlete in Tuesday's eight-man field with a sub-20-second PB (19.96), clocked a 10.20 SB in a 100 B race earlier in the day at the World Athletics Continental Tour Gold event.
Last May 23, Blake surprised world-renowned runners from the United States, South Africa and Great Britain to win in 19.89 on a 200 straight track at the adidas Boost Boston Games, though neither World Athletics nor Athletics Canada recognizes the event on its websites.
It signalled a turnaround for the six-foot-three athlete who left coach Tara Self in Coquitlam, B.C., after the 2020 season to train with relay teammate Aaron Brown and coach Dennis Mitchell in Florida.
"After that race, he was a very confident guy, almost too much," Brown told CBC Sports recently. "He kept saying, 'I'm going to run 19 [seconds] at this race and this race.' He didn't let it come naturally and started to put expectations on himself."
WATCH | Blake 'still growing as an athlete and person':
The added pressure eventually cost him a spot as a 100 or 200 runner on the 2020 Canadian Olympic team.
Blake spent the off-season improving his hip and core strength and is now stronger and more comfortable when he's upright and running. He also spent time working on his mental strength with a sports psychologist and continues to refine technical elements to become faster out of the starting blocks and over the first 10 to 20 metres.
"I've stopped putting pressure on myself," said Blake, a former hurdler, high jumper and long jumper. "I trust the work I've put into training and understand for each race I'm going to give what I have, do what I need to do, and the results will be the results."
Elsewhere on Tuesday, Reece Prescod became the first European man to break 10 seconds in the 100 this season, clocking 9.93.
Prescod showed blistering pace over the last 20 metres to surge ahead of Jamaica's Yohan Blake, a second cousin of Jerome Blake, and deliver a PB despite running into a headwind. Yohan Blake was second in 10.05.
WATCH | Too soon to worry about De Grasse, says CBC Sports' Morgan Campbell:
In other events:
Olympic champion Jasmine Camacho-Quinn of Puerto Rico recovered from a slow start in the women's 100 hurdles to finish first in 12.56 seconds. Pia Skrzyszowska of Poland was second in 12.65 ahead of American Nia Ali (12.69), partner of reigning Olympic men's 200 champion Andre De Grasse.
Seven-time Olympic champion Allyson Felix finished second in the women's 200, more than half a second behind Aminatou Seyni of Niger who won in 22.21. The 36-year-old Felix is competing in her farewell season, with the American having announced that she is retiring at the end of the year.
Ethiopia's Lamecha Girma dominated the men's 3,000 steeplechase with a world-leading time of seven minutes 58.68 seconds.
Another Olympic champion, Gianmarco Tamberi of Italy, cleared 2.30 metres to win the men's high jump.
In the rarely contested women's 300 hurdles, Femke Bol of the Netherlands clocked the fastest time ever to win in 36.86, more than one second faster than the previous best of 38.16 set by Zuzana Hejnova in 2013. The event does not have an official world record.
Kenyan Emmanuel Wanyonyi, 17 won the men's 800 in 1:44.15 while Diribe Welteji led an Ethiopian sweep of the women's 1,500 in 3:59.19 ahead of Ayal Dagnachew and Netsanet Desta.
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