Despite world athletics chief Sebastian Coe slamming the “obsession” with Bolt, Blake said he was inspired by the now-retired Jamaican showman as he qualified fastest for the 100 metres final.
“Usain told me, ‘Yohan, you’ve got to win or else you can’t go back home,” said Blake, adding that Bolt also posted a touching message on Instagram saying: “I believe in you.”
Blake eased to 10.06 sec in his semi-final to top the time-sheets ahead of England’s Adam Gemili, the 2014 silver-medallist, while English sprinter Asha Philip was fastest into the women’s final.
Coe earlier insisted that athletics had plenty of talent to remain in a healthy state after Bolt, the eight-time Olympic champion, 100m and 200m world record-holder and 2014 Commonwealth relay gold-medallist.
“Are we going to replace Usain Bolt? Probably not, because you don’t replace Muhammad Ali,” said Coe. “But Marvin Hagler and Manny Pacquiao and (Julio Cesar) Chavez and the great boxers came through.”
As the athletics competition opened, Australia’s Dane Bird-Smith won the men’s race walk, but Claire Tallent was left in tears after she was disqualified while leading the women’s race. Fellow Aussie Jemima Montag took gold.
Englishman Nick Miller hurled a Games-record 80.26m to win the hammer throw and Uganda’s Joshua Cheptegei, the world silver-medallist, won the men’s 5,000m in 13 min 50.83 sec.
In the pool, Cate Campbell won the 50m butterfly to lead Australia to a three-gold haul, but there was a major shock when Scotland’s Duncan Scott produced a thunderous finish to upset a heavyweight field in the 100m freestyle.
“I’m speechless to be honest, and that doesn’t happen often. The main thing there was to execute my own race,” said Scott, 20.