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A former St. Jago High School teammate of 2011 World champion Yohan Blake, Nickel Ashmeade lived in the shadow of Blake until he defeated Blake in the 200m at the 2008 Jamaica Boys and Girls Athletics Championships. That victory, he said, was a huge confidence builder going forward for the power-packed teen.
Prior to that, in 2006, Ashmeade won gold and silver at the Central American and Caribbean Under-17 Championships in the 100m and 200m, respectively. In 2007, he won the 200m and finished second in the 100m at the Jamaican Junior National Championships, which qualified him for the IAAF World Youth Games in Ostrava, Czech Republic. There, he grabbed silver in the 100m, and bronze in the 200m and medley relay.
At the 2008 World Junior Championships in Bydgoszcz, Poland, Ashmeade won two silvers: one in the 200m (behind the current French ace Christophe Lemaitre), the other as a member of Jamaica’s 4×1 relay team. In 2009, he won the Pan-Am Junior Championships 200m and took home his first senior title when he copped the 200m at the Caribbean and Central American Championships in Havana, Cuba. He then proved himself at a higher level by placing among the top three at Grand Prix meets in Europe, and finishing fifth in the 200m final in Daegu, South Korea.
Although this strong and versatile athlete favors the 200m, many believe that based on his combination of strength and speed, Ashmeade should concentrate on the individual 400m and run the 200m as well.
“I ran the 100m and the 400m just for fun,” he told us in 2011. But over time something changed. “Doing so many 4x4s, I’ve grown to LOVE it [individual 400m] actually,” he stressed, noting that he planned to do more – the 400m, 200m and 100m – and choose what suits him best. However, up to post 2013 season, his choice on the track remained the 100m-200m double. He placed sixth in the 100m final at the Moscow Worlds and was pipped out of a bronze medal in the 200m by Curtis Mitchell of the USA, his training partner in Florida under Lance Brauman.