Transcript of media call with Nickel Ashmeade

Nickel Ashmeade Media Call Transcript
Call conducted by Anthony Turner
Transcribed by Nicholas C. Martinez

*Media are welcome to take any quotes from this interview and use them in coverage on Ashmeade and the adidas Grand Prix.

adidas Grand Prix: Well, just going back this past weekend at the athletics meet in Jamaica, you looked a little stunned right after the victory in the 200 meters – almost as if you didn't believe what had just happened. Take us a little through the race and how surprised were you?

Nickel Ashmeade: Well, I was a bit surprised knowing that I was in lane 8, and before the meet, there was a lot of hustling to get into the meet also. But also, being in the meet alone, being in lane 8 with a strong field, with people like Asafa, Wallace Spearmon, Steve Mullings running fast times, but I was a bit surprised.

But knowing that I got out there, finished the race and then I won the race with a shocking 19.95 I was pretty amazed. I was really amazed.

AGP: What was bigger for you in this race – the win or your sub-20 time? I know you posted 19.95 seconds. Which one was bigger?

NA: Well, naturally, the PR is going to be the most important, which was 19.95, that the most . . . the win is a win. But when the PR is also the most biggest thing for me, that's the most appreciated moment for me.

AGP: I know you've competed at the National Stadium on numerous occasions. But how did it feel competing and not being in a St. Jago vest?

NA: I feel pretty weird knowing that you won at St. Jago High School and also watching the guys run the 4x4, you know you want to be there. But, you know you change your life making the choice of being professional . . . I feel pretty weird but you know I've moved on from being high school to a professional so it's not really a big deal for me.

AGP: And I heard your parents were actually at the race last weekend. What did they actually think of your performance?

NA: Well, my dad, he couldn’t speak for about a split second when he saw me. My mom, she was amazed because Sunday was Mother’s Day as you all know and that was part of her gift. She told me that was part of her gift for Mother’s Day.

My dad, this was the first time he's seen me run professional because he's always overseas working. So, this was the first time professional and that was the best moment of his life he told me. So that was pretty happy for both of them. Then also my sisters, it was really a happy moment for them also.

AGP: Well, let me be the first to congratulate you on your great win. But, taking us back to the 2008 Boys' Championship in Jamaica, Nick, you upset the field in the 200 meters ahead of then- favorites Ramone McKenzie, who I know is your current stable mate, and Yohan Blake, your former St. Jago teammate. And on Saturday, at the Jamaica International Invitational Meet in Kingston, you again upset the field in the 200 meters ahead of current stable mate Steve Mullings, as well as a slew of elite athletes, including Wallace Spearmon. How do both these victories feel and how do they compare?

NA: Well, let me start with the one back in 2008. That will always be a moment to remember. That's where my breakthrough came through because in high school, my coach, my former coach, Danny Hawthorne, always keep telling me, you know, in training “Go pass Yohan!” “Go pass him!” But, I would never go pass him because I don’t believe I could do it.

But, being at that 200 that night, seeing Ramone McKenzie passing my teammate Yohan Blake, then I know that I could do it. And that's where my first exercise came in, and up onto this day I know that I'm not doing something crazy once I put my mind to it.

And that moment I could not put anything over, not even the Jamaica Invitational. And that moment in 2008 I think will be higher than this one that was done last Saturday.

But going back to this last Saturday, the time was better, my whole technique is different now and everything. But I give it up for the 2008 Boys' Champs, the best moment ever.

AGP: OK. And, some athletes actually struggle to complete . . . to compete in the 200 meters in lane 8. You're certainly not one of them. And how do you explain being so young competing against veteran athletes and yet managing to get the best of them when you are running blind?

NA: Well, my coach told me “You're in one lane. You're in lane 8. So there will be no one there. Just run scared.” And also my partner Steve Mullings, he shared certain pointers with me saying, “Get out of the first 80, start looping around and just focus on you.”

And I go out there and try to maintain focus on me alone. Don't matter who's inside, don’t think about a former world leader or Wallace Spearmon or what time he’s running or Steve Mullings focus on me. I am possible of doing something crazy once I put my mind's to it. And I end up going out there, just did that focus on me and then that's what happened. Fast time came and that's what happened. I’m so happy for that.

AGP: And now that you're training in Florida, do you still get a chance to follow the progress of the St. Jago track team?

NA: Yes I do. I call . . . I'm in good contact with my coach I must say, my high school coach. You know, we speak now and then when we get in contact. So I'm trying to figure out what's going on with the guys at St. Jago's. And like the champs, I try to call them and see how they are doing and how they are progressing.

So I still keep in contact with them. I wish I could do more but it's just the time which I am training right now, so that's just the hold up. So I fully support St. Jago's all the way.

AGP: I wanted to know are you still in touch with Yohan Blake, Andre Walsh and Riker Hylton who are of course members of that historic St. Jago's 4x1 relay team, which was the first team, high school team, to go under 40 seconds, which you of course were a part of. Do you still . . . are you still in touch with them?

NA: Yes I do. I keep in contact with Yohan Blake.  Actually, yesterday we spoke on the phone yesterday. Walsh, we keep in contact also. Walsh and also Riker. So, you know no matter where I go, no matter what times I run, my friends from high school will never change. They are always going to be the same persons to me, and no matter where I run, I’m still going to be the same.

So, they are always my brothers for life, so I still keep in touch with them.

AGP: Now that you're actually training in Florida, what is it like training with a veteran Olympic sprinter and champion like Tyson Gay?

NA: Well, it's amazing. I must tell you. It’s is amazing. It’s a pleasure, it’s a gift. It's is everything in one. Tyson Gay is a world talented athlete. Being next to him in practice, I'm also training with Tyson Gay and Steve Mullings, I know that he knows a lot. When I'm doing something wrong in practice, he can do certain <indecipherable> and say “Hey Nick, you're doing something wrong” or “Your hand is too long” or “Your legs are too short” or whatever he brings up you know.

He's always good at training and he knows my ability from my end, so he's always helping me reach further from my end. So it's a pleasure, I'm telling you it's a pleasure. It's a pleasure.

AGP: And what other things have you actually learned from him, I mean in terms of technique or just motivation. Tell me some of the other things you've learned . . .

NA: <talking over Turner's “from him . . .”> Well, I've learned a lot. Basically . . . like some things, for example, when you're starting and your first three steps are supposed to be one of the biggest steps. You know, you want to get <indecipherable> very fast.  You know your hand movements are supposed to be . . . your first 10 meters are supposed to be quick, at least six steps.

And those are some of the things he taught me. Certain things like the way to maintain, how you keep your knees up, you want to let them come free, like taking small steps when you come off the curve. So, I learned a lot from him.  I learned a lot from him. And even just watching him alone, you can learn a lot from him because he is really . . . I want to say he's technically sound a lot. He is technically sound a lot. So watching him and listening to him you can learn a lot. You can learn a lot.

AGP: And let's turn our attention now to the adidas Grand Prix that you will of course be competing at Icahn Stadium here in New York on Saturday, June 11th. Will New York be your first Diamond League event for 2011?

NA: I'm not sure as of yet. I can't really say. I have to see what my agent has to say about it. I'm not pretty sure as of yet what's on my schedule. But I think that it will.

AGP: And you've actually competed in Icahn Stadium since you're in high school. What are your impressions of the meet in general and of course, the strong Jamaican/Caribbean fan support in particular?

NA: The meet being in New York is like a second home to Jamaica because the fans are there. You have Jamaican flags all over, left, right and center, Jamaican flags over here. It’s always good, it's like being at home, the same way.

AGP: And of course Icahn Stadium has a lot of history with Jamaica. Of course this is where Usain Bolt first broke the world record in the 100 meters. Do you feel any type of pressure to produce a world leading time at this meet?  And what can fans look for when you grace the stage . . . grace the track on June 11th?

AGP: Well, I'm a humble guy and I don't talk a lot of things like other athletes do. I do things on the track. And for me I don't see pressure because the reason why I don't see pressure is because I’m not a world record holder. I'm not somebody who's out there or … I’m just a rising young kid coming up wanting to be like other people and think that I'm better than them.

So there's less pressure on me. It's about maintaining my own speed staying injury free and just running my own race. And I know I'm capable of anything. That's just me.

When I’m on the track . . I know that there's going to be something good. It is gonna be a PR for me no matter how I run. So I know that I'm just going to stick to my race plan, stay focused and execute.

AGP: In terms of your goals for this year, what are some of your goals?

NA: Well, my main goal and my interim goals are classified. But, my goal is to just stay injury free and when I stay injury free, you can expect anything.

AGP: You've completed both the 100 and 200 meters. Which one is your favorite event this point in your career?

NA: My favorite . . . I think I'll say the 200. 200 is a better event for me.

AGP: Of course, last Saturday at the National Stadium in Jamaica, there were many, many fast times. And speaking of fast tracks, why do you think people run so fast at Randall's Island in New York?

NA: I think mainly because of the crowd. And the track has a great history, a fine group of fans. So I just think that it's the crowd and the individuals behind that. So it's everything in one.

AGP: So fans can get to know you a little but more off the track, what do you like to do when you are not training, sleeping or eating? Any particular hobbies that you like besides track and field?
NA: I like listening to music, particular R&B, Soul, a little hip-hop, rap, something like that. Maybe a little bit of reggae but not really much and gospel. You'll catch me reading sometimes and playing video games. Black Ops and Call of Duty, that's me. And playing games. That's basically it. Going out to the mall sometimes. Doing some shopping. That's basically it.

AGP: And how have you made the adjustment now that you are actually living in Florida . . . how has the adjustment been under a new coach and living in a new situation. How has that been for you?

NA: The adjustment has went pretty well. You know, we were pretty slow last year because I was just getting into it. But, you know I've been matured into the whole situation now and been here almost two years now. So, it's adapted pretty well. It's going on fine for me. No complaints. The weather is good, my coach is good, the group is good. So I all pretty good, no problems.

AGP: Anything else you want to add or tell the world about?

NA: Come again?

AGP: Anything else you want to add or tell the world about Nick, that we may not already know about you?

NA: Yeah. I'm a God-fearing person and I'm a family guy also. I love my family. And my mom and dad are my biggest fans.  Yeah, that's basically it.