“I am based in the States, where I live and train to provide for myself and family. My day starts off by first thanking God for seeing another day and the talent He has blessed me with. I eat breakfast, call my fiancée and my kids and get ready for practice.
“Track practice starts at 9am to 12noon and then gym till 2pm. I go home, shower, eat, rest, play video games and most importantly call my girls. Before bed, I Skype my kids, we pray together and tuck them into bed.”
Twenty nine year old Keston “Blazin” Bledman is one of Trinidad and Tobago’s top track athletes with a CV that includes appearances at the 2008, 2012 and 2016 Olympic Games—with 4×100 metre silver medals at the Beijing 2008 and London 2012 Games respectively. He is also a Hummingbird Medal (Gold) and Chaconia Medal (Gold) recipient.
So what challenges come with being a sprint star? Bledman opens up to Wired868:
Can you tell us about yourself?
Well I am a professional track athlete and I was born in San Fernando, Trinidad.
Why did you choose this profession?
(Chuckles) This profession chose me. My local coach Gunness Persad recruited me after he saw me running at a Secondary School sports day and since then track has been a part of my life and now my profession. I started running in primary school but competitively in 2005 when I made my first National team.
Where are you based at present?
I live in Clermont, Florida where I live and train to provide for myself and family. I was offered a contract from Adidas and I accepted and moved to the United States to train with Adidas Camp in Florida.
How do balance your professional and personal lives?
I have three beautiful kids [and] thanks to technology, I can Skype and talk with my kids every day. Whenever they are on vacation, my fiancée, Afiya Walker, and kids travel [from Trinidad] to Clermont to spend time with me… I am in the States at least 10 out of the 12 months in the year. But once I get the opportunity, I travel home to visit my family.
What is your daily routine like in Clermont?
My day starts off by first thanking God for seeing another day and the talent He has blessed me with. I eat breakfast, call my fiancée and my kids and get ready for practice. Track practice starts at 9am to 12noon and then gym till 2pm. I go home, shower, eat, rest, play video games and most importantly call my girls. Before bed, I Skype my kids, we pray together and tuck them into bed.
Being away from my family is the biggest sacrifice that I have made thus far for my career, especially being away from my kids. However, my biggest fan and eldest daughter, Zion, is a great inspiration and she keeps me going.
As a professional athlete how do you earn money?
I am paid based on my contract, which is an agreement between [Adidas] and my agent. Also, I earn money when I compete at various meets; however, not all meets are paid meets. I will then be paid accordingly, based on my results and sometimes appearance fees are given; but these monies are not received until months after the race was competed.
Do your earnings increase around the Olympic Games?
No, not really. However, the Olympic year is very important for renewal of contracts, bonuses and endorsements. As long as you are performing well, chances are that you can get invited to compete at well-paying meets.
My job allows me to travel the world, I enjoy what I do and, most importantly, I can provide for my family.
What is your favourite travel destination? And how do you spend your free time?
I have been privileged to travel to many beautiful countries but there is no place like home. I usually spend my free time talking and spending time with my kids and family and playing video games.
Tell us about something weird or awesome that happened to you once at work.
Something awesome that happened to me at work was be the day I met the woman of my dreams; who is now my fiancée, Afiya Walker. She is a former national athlete and we met on our first Carifta team in 2005, but never interacted much until 2010 when we made the NACAC under-23 team. We have been best friends ever since.
What advice do you have for upcoming sprint athletes?
Firstly, have a solid spiritual foundation. Secondly, get an education—because as a professional athlete your track years are limited but once you have a good education you always have something to fall back on. Thirdly, obey your parents and be respectful to everyone.
What is next for Keston Bledman?
This year is the World Championships in London, so my main goal is getting on the podium in my two individual events, having a healthy season and getting back in the top 10 of the IAAF World Rankings.