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Dangerous Daniel Bailey Says: I’ll Show Them Who I Am

Lurking in the Caribbean is an impending danger whom some fans have only just begun to watch. He’s 100m specialist Daniel Bailey from Antigua & Barbuda, who is so serious about his track career that he approaches every race with an attitude: the mind-set that he’s the fastest competitor in the line-up.

Sounds crazy, you might think when you consider that he trains with Usain Bolt and has raced him at one time or another. Well that training partnership works well for Bailey, building his confidence in a big way. And if other competitors believe that his confidence is false, they might just be in for a surprise if they come up against him.

“It’s great training with the world’s fastest man because when you go out there with him everyday, you do the same thing he does. So you have no-one to fear when you go out to compete,” Bailey said.

It’s therefore understandable why nervousness doesn’t factor into his emotions as he awaits the starter’s orders. I don’t worry about nobody; I just think about executing, coming out of the blocks correctly, going through my drive phase, and getting into my transition and maintain.  I just want to hear the gun and go.”

During a race, Bailey doesn’t panic if he feels anyone pull up beside him. Instead, he tries to keep his composure and run his own race.

So who is Daniel Bailey and how did he get here? A look at the 22-yr-old’s track record shows that he didn’t just arrive on the scene all of a sudden but has been climbing through the ranks since he was nine.

As a child, Bailey played soccer before he became interested in track. When he was 11, he competed in the 100m and 200m at the inter-school sports in Antigua without even training for it. “I went out there and beat up everybody, people who were training,” he recalls. As a result of that performance, one coach advised him to take the sport seriously. But he didn’t get somewhat serious about it until he was 15; even then his involvement was “off and on.”

“My first international meet was in St. Vincent, 1996; I got licks but I made the final. When I was 16, I started learning different stuff,” Bailey remembers. He continued the of-and-on approach until he was about 18 when he began taking track really seriously. The self-realization of his talent and how he was joking around with it happened in 2003.

“I went out and trained every day. I went to my first CARIFTA Games [that year] in Trinidad and made the final in the 100m. I was 6th. I went into the 200m, made the final and got a silver medal [behind Bolt].”

That period was a little turbulent for the teen. He was getting into arguments with his sometimes temperamental coach who later sought higher-level training for him from a retired coach. That coach was reluctant to come out of retirement to condition Bailey. He, however, decided to do it after seeing him run, and gave him some solid training that included work in the gym.

That same year, 2003, Bailey went to the World Youth Games and placed 4th. The following year he broke his national 100m record at the World Junior Games in Grosseto, Italy, running 10.19 secs. Then injury struck behind his knee, a problem that put him out for over a year after running with it for while and doing times in the 10.3-10.4 range. Bailey soon saw the need for a coach that would train him more than just the three times a week he was he was getting.

While at 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece, Bailey was spotted by Glen Mills, Usain Bolt’s current coach, who suggested that he come to Jamaica to train. “I came to Jamaica in 2006 and started training with him,” he said. “I started improving in different ways as I started learning different stuff.” At that point, Bailey wasn’t looking for outstanding times because he had just changed coaches and it took him a while to adjust to Mills’s program. However, he ran 10.2 and was later injured.

In 2008, Bailey ran a personal record of 10.12 twice within the month before going to his second Olympics where he carried his country’s flag at the opening ceremony. There he came second in the first heat in 10.24 secs. behind Bolt, his training partner. In the second round he improved his time to 10.23 but did not make it to the semi-finals as he finished in fourth place after Jamaica’s Asafa Powell, the US’s Walter Dix and the Bahamas’s Derrick Atkins.

“These things happen,” was how he brushed off the outcome. “I was young and it was my second Olympics.”

The 2009 track season Bailey began with a bang for Bailey. He decided to step up his reps in training and do extra of everything. The decision paid off well.

“I went to my first indoor meet in Birmingham [England] and broke the international record, running 6.53.” Early in May, he recorded a windy 9.93 secs. for second in a race with Bolt in Jamaica.” And I wasn’t even running,” he said. Later that month, he argued against his coach’s intention to remove him from the Jamaica International Invitational line-up because he had pulled up the week before. But Bailey had his way after convincing Coach Mills that he was fine. He ran a personal best and national record of 10.02 (+ 0.1 m/s) to place second behind American Darvis Patton, who had the same time.

His next stop was the Adidas Track Classic in the US, where he was second again in 10.14. Then at the May 24 South American Grande Premio Brasil Caixa meet in Belem, Brazil, the 5′ 8″ Antiguan became the first athlete to go sub-10 secs. on the continent, when he clocked 9.99 secs. into a headwind for a new personal best and another national record.

On May 30 at the Reebok Grand Prix in New York, Bailey was left in the blocks and managed only 6th with a wind-aided 10.02 ahead of Jamaicans Powell, Michael Frater and Nesta Carter. Two weeks later on June 14, he ran 10.03 to win at the ISTAF Golden League Athletics Meeting in Berlin. At the Bislett Games in Oslo on July 3, Bailey was second to Powell as both recorded the same 10.07 secs.

July 10, the determined Bailey, who admired how former world record holder Maurice Greene prepared for and executed his races, went up against a loaded field in Rome that includeed Tyson Gay, Asafa Powell, U.S. champion Michael Rodgers (9.94 pb in ’09); 2008 Olympic fourth place finisher Churandy Martina (9.93 pb, 9.97 in ’09) of the Dutch Antilles and 2008 silver medalist Richard Thompson of Trinidad & Tobago. Bailey place 4th (9.97) behind Gay (9.77), Powell (9.88) and Yohan Blake of Jamaica (9.96).

On July 17 in Paris, Bailey was second in a race Bolt and clocked another personal best and national record of 9.91.

Bailey is fully prepared for the challenge.
“I’m on a different level right now.”

Bailey notes that Bolt has done a lot to inspire him. “He told me that this season is different and he wasn’t going to make me do what I did last season: playing around; that he would make sure I do what I have to do in training. And he did exactly that,” he said. “That he [Bolt] is there is a big push. I go out with the mentality that nobody can beat me, and that’s how I keep improving and keep winning races.”

In Antigua, Bailey gets the star treatment of a Usain Bolt in Jamaica and it makes him feel good. He just wants to focus on making his family, friends, fans and country proud. As a professional athlete, he intends to make money so he can invest in a business that will bring him income. He also plans to pursue a degree in computer technology.

As far as track goes, Bailey is fully prepared for the challenge. “I’m on a different level right now. I guess everybody is looking at me, wondering who this guy is. I’m going to show them who he is,” the rising Eastern Caribbean star said smiling, confidently. “Jamaica is doing it, Bahamas is doing it, Trinidad is doing it. So why can’t Antigua do it? That’s just my mentality right now.”

For the 2009 World Championships, Bailey says he hasn’t peaked as yet. I’ve been doing stuff that’s pushing me back from peaking; I want to peak at the right time,” he said. “I have about four meets before I go off to Berlin. Then after these meets I’ll get about two weeks in the gym and I’ll be ready.”

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