Bolt racing in Jamaican c'ships to pick up speed

KINGSTON (Jamaica) - Reigning world and Olympic sprint champion Usain Bolt will return to basics when he runs the 100 metres today at the Jamaica Athletics Championships to prepare for the World Championships in August.

The 28-year-old had not originally planned to run at the national trials for the Jamaican squad, having already assured himself of a spot in the field at the Bird's Nest in Beijing.

But his failure to run under 10 seconds in the 100m and under 20 seconds in the 200m this season has bewildered the global sprint star and forced coach Glen Mills to change plans and enter him in the Jamaican trials that selects athletes for the World Championships and next month's Pan American Games in Toronto.

Bolt has byes into the World Championships 100m and 200m after winning both events two years ago in Moscow, just as he did at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and 2012 London Olympics. But, while making the team is not a concern, finding form is a worry.

It was at the Bird's Nest stadium seven years ago that he set 100m and 200m world records while dancing into the hearts of sports fans all over the globe.

He took last season off to rest and underwent a medical procedure to prepare for what he says are his final three years of competitive track and field, a span in which he wanted to secure his legacy and create history as the only man to win three straight Olympic sprint doubles.

But things have not worked the way he hoped this season. After clocking a sluggish 20.29sec in the 200m at the Diamond League meet in New York earlier this month, he has had to change his plans.

Now Bolt can hope for a repeat of the 2012 season, in which he was beaten twice by Yohan Blake in both Jamaican trials finals but rallied to win both golds in London, defeating Blake in each final.

Nearly 60 men are entered in the 100m but the focus will be on Bolt, which could help former world record holder Asafa Powell, who has a season-best 9.84sec and will be favoured to win the 100m final tomorrow night.

Blake, who has been hampered by injuries since 2013 when he missed defending his world title, is entered in both sprints, as is Nesta Carter, the sixth-fastest man ever. They could be pushed by a stable of young sprinters led by Kemarley Brown, who ran 9.93sec last year.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 25, 2015, with the headline 'Bolt racing in Jamaican c'ships to pick up speed'. Print Edition | Subscribe