The student is ready to become the master.
Medal hopeful Mario Burke says he will be gunning for his mentor Obadele Thompson’s national records in both sprints whenever the International Olympic Committee decides to hold the Tokyo Olympics.
Burke revealed his goals in an interview with Barbados TODAY, even amidst all the uncertainty surrounding the fate of the Games.
“I’m aiming to make the finals and once I get there then the goal of course is to bring back home a medal, but I’ve always wanted to take down Oba’s 9.87 [seconds] and 19.97 [seconds] in the 100 and 200 metres [respectively],” said the 23-year-old sprinter.
“And I believe I was in the kind of form to do that this year. I was really pleased with the kind of training I was getting in because I was hitting marks I never hit before and I was faster, stronger and more mentally prepared than ever.
“Of course this situation right now is way bigger than sports but I believe I’ve put all the pieces together to break those records and reach the final, so now it’s about taking that momentum into 2021 and being ready for whenever the Olympics are,” he added.
It’s just another box Burke is looking to tick off in a career that has mirrored Thompson’s somewhat, after he too dominated the track for Oba’s alma mater Harrison College.
With the Olympic bronze medallist helping to mentor him, Burke went on to also cop CARIFTA gold before putting the world on notice with a bronze medal-winning performance in the 100 of the World Under-20 Championships in 2016.
But he truly delivered on his promising talent last season, joining Thompson as the only Bajans to break the ten-second barrier when he clocked a career-best 9.98 seconds at last year’s NCAA Championships.
And Oba believes the best is yet to come.
“My records have been around for a very long time so they need to go and when they get broken it will be good because that likely means he, or whoever does it, is at an elite level,” said Thompson.
“And then when he does that hopefully that means he is challenging for international medals because as Mario’s mentor for several years I’ve been excited to see his growth as an athlete and a person, especially in the past season.
“I’m excited about his future in the sport. He has a great coach in Carl Lewis and a good support system around him so with good health and focus I believe he will become a major player on the global scene,” he added.
For Burke, that success was supposed to come this summer until the outbreak of the current COVID-19 pandemic put a pause on every global sporting event.
Yet, the possible postponement of the Olympics hasn’t really setback the Texas-based sprinter, who has used the time to refocus and build his offseason endurance.
“For me the difficulty is just finding different spots to train to stay in shape and build back my endurance but I am feeling stronger than ever and ready to compete,” said Burke.
“Of course the main goal has been to stay safe and healthy and not put myself at risk of getting the disease because this really is bigger than sports.
“But I’m ready to make the finals and fight for a medal because I know I have the ability to run with the best of the world, so I hope we postpone this for everyone’s safety and then find a right date for all the sports involved and not just track and field,” he added.
Earlier today long serving IOC member Dick Pound said the Olympics were likely going to be pushed back to 2021 although the parameters going forward have not been determined.
IOC president Thomas Bach only went as far as to say he has ruled out cancelling the Games before stating that the IOC will reach a decision within four weeks.