Athletics: Usain Bolt gets boost from Andre de Grasse's absence at world championships in London

Andre de Grasse in action at the Stockholm Diamond League meet, where he set this year's fastest 100m time of 9.69 seconds.
Andre de Grasse in action at the Stockholm Diamond League meet, where he set this year's fastest 100m time of 9.69 seconds.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Jamaican gets golden chance to win 100m as rival pulls out of c'ships with hamstring issue

LONDON • Andre de Grasse, the triple Olympic sprint medallist, has pulled out of the athletics World Championships in London with injury, boosting Usain Bolt's chances of a golden swansong.

The Canadian was expected to be Bolt's main rival for the 100m crown but he suffered a hamstring strain in training on Monday and will miss the rest of the season.

"The entire year this 100m race in London was my focus. I am really in the best shape of my life and was looking forward to competing against the best in the world," the 22-year-old said in a statement. "To not have this opportunity is unimaginable to me but it is the reality I am now faced with.

"I am sad to miss this chance but I am young and with treatment and rehabilitation I will be back and better than ever in the near future."

His manager Paul Doyle said the sprinter had suffered a grade two right hamstring strain.

"We tried to do everything we could to have him ready but he's just not going to be ready," Doyle said. "Further MRI results today showed it's probably going to be another four to six weeks before he's fully recovered.

"So unfortunately he's out of the 100 metres, 200 metres and the relay and done for the season."

De Grasse, who last year won the Olympic 200m silver and bronzes in the 100m and 4x100m relay, had been due to line up in the 100m heats on the championships' opening day today as the first part of another triple-medal bid.

He had recorded the fastest time of the year - 9.69 seconds, albeit strongly wind-assisted, in Stockholm in June, and had been shaping up as the man most likely to spoil the script in Bolt's final championships.

De Grasse first came on Bolt's radar last year at the Rio Games when the confident Canadian pushed him hard in the 200m semi-finals, prompting the Jamaican to wag his finger at the youngster.

The pair had seemed to get on well but the atmosphere between them had evidently chilled a little this year, if Bolt's comments at a media conference in London on Tuesday were anything to go by.

Asked who might fill his shoes after he retires, Bolt made what appeared to be a pointed reference to de Grasse when he responded: "I'm not going down that road. The last guy I said was going to be great disrespected me."

This was thought to be in response to de Grasse suggesting that Bolt might be slowing down in his final season.

Also, there had been a claim from de Grasse's team that Bolt had tried to get the Canadian ousted from the 100m that he was running at the Diamond League meet in Monaco - a suggestion of "running scared" that the Jamaican vehemently denied.

De Grasse's absence from the 100m unquestionably boosts Bolt's chances of ensuring he adds an eighth individual World Championships gold to his incredible tally in his final solo race tomorrow.

REUTERS

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 04, 2017, with the headline 'Bolt gets boost from de Grasse's absence'. Print Edition | Subscribe