Athletics: Bailey-Cole hit by Zika blow but will still run in Jamaican trials

KINGSTON, Jamaica (AFP) - Jamaican sprinter Kemar Bailey-Cole revealed he had recently contracted the Zika virus but still plans to run in next week's Olympic trials, it was reported here on Saturday.

Bailey-Cole, the Commonwealth 100 metres champion, told the Gleaner newspaper he discovered he had contracted the disease by chance.

"I didn't know I had it (Zika) until I went to get a haircut. After cleaning up, my girlfriend realised a bump was on my neck, which was a lymph node," Bailey-Cole told the daily.

"I was experiencing back pains and muscle soreness, but I thought it was just soreness from the exercises I was doing. It is very disappointing."

Bailey-Cole, 24, will be vying for places on Jamaica's Olympic team when the country's track and field trials begin next Thursday, with Usain Bolt, Asafa Powell and Yohan Blake among his rivals.

The sprinter said though he was recovering from the virus his body was still suffering from the after effects.

"Recovering is not easy because, as we speak, the rashes are still on my body. My eyes hurt, but the best thing is that I am not feeling any muscle pain at the moment," he said.

"(I am) just going to trials with the mindset that I am healthy and ready," added Bailey-Cole, who is also an Olympic and world 4x100m relay gold medallist.

Several athletes - including top golfer Rory McIlroy - have pulled out of the Olympics due to Zika, which causes birth defects including a syndrome known as microcephaly in which babies are born with unusually small heads and brains.

The virus has also been linked to rare adult-onset neurological problems such as the Guillain-Barre syndrome, which can result in paralysis and death.