Sprinter Asuka Cambridge has set his sights on a place in the 100-meter final at his IAAF World Athletics Championships debut next week, but he knows he must learn from past mistakes if he is to make his mark.
Speaking to reporters at Haneda airport before taking off for the Aug. 4-13 championships in London, the 24-year-old admitted the prospect of running in the long-awaited-for event is playing on his emotions.
“I’ve always been excited (about competing in the worlds). I can feel my heart racing,” Cambridge said.
Despite having the incentive of running alongside Usain Bolt, widely seen as the world’s best-ever sprinter, in his last 100 final, Cambridge knows he must overcome long odds and large obstacles to line up in the race between the world’s fastest eight men.
Cambridge’s personal best in the men’s 100 is 10.08 seconds, half a second behind the world record Bolt set in 2009 at the world championships in Berlin and 0.07 seconds behind the slowest qualifier for the Rio Olympics final.
But the Jamaican-Japanese sprinter will not let that stop him from setting big goals.
“I want to be one of the runners to reach the final,” he said.
At least Cambridge is not setting unrealistic medal expectations with the likes of Bolt and other greats, including American Justin Gatlin who finished runner-up to Bolt twice at the last two worlds in 2013 and 2015, likely to be challenging for the podium.
Cambridge’s Rio Games effort, which he described as a “mistake” on Friday, saw him flop in the 100, running 10.17 seconds in being eliminated at the semifinal stage. It is a performance that left a bitter taste, a feeling that not even the silver he won in the 4×100 was able to erase. But now he says he has his first chance to make amends.
Cambridge will be joined by Abdul Hakim Sani Brown, who will be making his second straight world championships appearance, looking to improve on his personal best of 10.05 seconds. Shuhei Tada, another debutant, will also run the 100 which starts with the heats on Aug. 4.
“It finally feels like it’s going to start. My goal is to advance to the 100 semifinals,” Tada said.