Bolt will be fit to race: Gatlin

Despite Jamaican track star's hamstring injury, his US rival is confident he will recover for Rio

EUGENE (Oregon) • Justin Gatlin believes rival Usain Bolt will be fit for the Olympics after the injury scare that has left the Jamaican sprint king's participation in Rio de Janeiro shrouded in uncertainty.

American star Gatlin - silver medallist behind Bolt at last year's World Championships - admitted that he had been shocked by news of Bolt's injury on Friday but is sure the six-time Olympic champion will be fit for Brazil.

"I got a text last night. I thought 'Is it April Fool's?' Let me check the calendar," Gatlin said at the US Olympic trials here on Saturday. "But crazy things happen in Olympic years, so we'll see what happens."

Bolt suffered a minor hamstring tear at the Jamaican trials in Kingston and is now battling to be fit for Rio with the Olympics beginning on Aug 5.

But Gatlin is in no doubt that Bolt will recover in time.

"I think it's just the mystery in the air of the Olympics. It's full of dreams and sometimes dreams don't come true. But come on, man - he's Usain. We're going to see his face in Rio one way or another."

The 34-year-old veteran, who has been one of Bolt's most consistent rivals in recent years, believes Jamaican officials would give Bolt every opportunity to make the team.

"At the end of the day, when you command a certain power in track and field, sometimes you can exercise it. That's what's happening right now - he's injured, he has a medical pass, that's what his country does," said Gatlin.

Another of Bolt's US rivals, Tyson Gay, said of Bolt's injury: "It's tradition."

Bolt will learn on Thursday if he has been selected by Jamaica to run in the 100m, 200m and 4x100m in Rio.

A Jamaican Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA) committee will meet that day to consider his medical exemption request to be allowed to run in the three events - all of which he won at the 2008 Beijing and 2012 London Olympics.

JAAA rules allow injured athletes ranked in the top three on the IAAF performance list to miss the selection trials and be placed on the Olympic squad, but they must prove their fitness in time to be included.

Warren Blake, JAAA president, and Ludlow Watts, team manager for Jamaica's Olympics athletics team, are hopeful that Bolt would compete at the London Anniversary Games on July 22 and prove his fitness.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 04, 2016, with the headline 'Bolt will be fit to race: Gatlin'. Print Edition | Subscribe