The second fastest sprinter in history couldn’t hide his shock at being beaten by a little-known Australian runner at the Tokyo Olympics.
Rohan Browning is Australia’s new star of the track after the run of his life to win his 100m heat, leaving 2021 Jamaican world champion Yohan Blake trailing in his wake.
The 23-year-old Sydney law student clocked a personal-best 10.01 seconds to move to second on the Australian all-time list and the equal fifth fastest time going into Sunday night’s semi-finals.
One of the hot favourites to win gold in Tokyo, Blake looked astonished to have beaten by the Australian he didn’t see coming in lane one.
The 2012 Olympic silver medalist took a quick glance across at Browning as his opponent crossed the finish line ahead of him.
Seconds later, a stunned Blake was filmed by television cameras grimacing and shrugging his shoulders following the surprise defeat.
Rohan Browning shocked the world on Saturday night by winning his 100 metre men’s heat
‘Yohan Blake has looked across and you know what he’s thought, ‘Who is that in lane one? I’ve been beaten by an Australian’! Yes, you have Yohan Blake,’ former Olympian Tamsyn Manou said in Channel 7 coverage.
Co-commentator Bruce McAvaney was just as excited. ‘Boy oh boy. We’ve got one! We’ve found one,’ he said.
Browning was out of the blocks quickly and never looked like being beaten.
The only Australian to have clocked a faster legal time was Patrick Johnson, who ran 9.93 back in 2003.
The humble Australian used his 15 seconds in the spotlight to issue a passionate plea for millions of viewers holed up in lockdown back home.
‘Hopefully I’ve put a few people on notice now,’ Browning told reporters post-race.
‘It feels good. If I can take one thing away from it, it’s that Australia, don’t go out on anti-vax protests, stay home and get around the underdogs at the Olympics.’
2011 world champion Yohan Blake (pictured) looked incredibly shocked to be beaten by Australia’s new sprint hero, Rohan Browning
Blake, 31, finished second behind fellow countryman Usain Bolt in the 100 and 200m double in 2012 in London and failed to make the podium in either event four years later in Rio.
The semi-finals will begin at 8.15pm Sunday night with eight progressing to the final two hours later at 10.50pm.
Former Olympic sprinter Matt Shirvington believes Browning could be on the medal podium on Sunday night if he can shave another 0.05 seconds of his personal best and go under 10 seconds.
‘If Rohan can find 0.05, he is going to be in the mix for sure,’ Shirvington told Sunrise on Sunday.
No Australian man has qualified for an Olympic 100m final since Hec Hogan won bronze in Melbourne in 1956, a feat now well within Browning’s reach if he can replicate this run in the semis on Sunday.
‘There’s more to pull out of myself. I can definitely be pushed a bit more,’ Browning told Channel Seven post-race.
Browning left the likes of 2011 world champion Yohan Blake from Jamaica in his wake as he stopped the clock at 10.01 seconds
‘It’s the one thing I’ve probably been lacking on the Australian circuit. I’ve been patient this year.
‘I’ve just been training and racing in Australia and I’ve been dying for a bit of world-class competition.’
”I had a look at the start list when the heats came out and I thought ‘geez I’ve got one of the stiffest heats’.
‘But you’d rather do it the hard way because it’s much more satisfying that way and you’ve got to front up to everyone at some point.’
Browning was thrilled to take some early scalps in his heat.
‘I’ve wanted to get him (Blake) for a long time. All the world’s best guys are on my hit-list.
‘When you’re in lane one, you don’t get a personalised introduction and I was definitely trying to harness a bit of that underdog spirit today.
‘I doubt any of these guys would have any idea who I am.’
Rohan Browning, left, of Australia, leads the field in his heat of the men’s 100-meters
The only Australian to have clocked a faster legal time was Patrick Johnson, who ran 9.93 back in 2003
Browning was the equal fifth fastest qualifier for Sunday’s semis, with Canadian Andre de Grasse topping the timesheets with 9.91.
‘There are a lot of media pundits who are writing up really well-meaning stories about how great it would be for me to make the finals, but you know I’ve never been here just to make the final,’ he said.
‘No matter what the bookies say, the pundits, the punters. I hope there are a few more believers tonight’.
His electrifying performance was hailed on social media, but some fans were more impressed with Browning’s mullet hairstyle.
‘The win was almost as great as your haircut,’ wrote one viewer while congratulating Browning.
‘Rohan Browning won because his mullet was so aerodynamic,’ joked another.
Browning’s electrifying performance was hailed on social media, but some fans were more impressed with the sprinter’s mullet hairstyle