Bolt in race for fitness

Jamaican aims to grab his spot for Rio in London after injuring hamstring in trials

KINGSTON • Usain Bolt confirmed he had suffered a minor hamstring tear at Jamaica's Olympic trials on Friday, but the star sprinter expects to secure his place at the Rio Games by proving his fitness at the London Anniversary Games later this month.

The Jamaican withdrew from the final of the 100 metres after Friday night's semi-finals, as Yohan Blake went on to win the trial in 9.95 seconds.

"After feeling discomfort in my hamstring after the first round last night (Thursday) and then again in the semi-final tonight, I was examined by the chief doctor of the national championships and diagnosed with a Grade 1 tear," Bolt, the two-time Olympic 100m and 200m gold medallist, said on his official Facebook account.

"I have submitted a medical exemption to be excused from the 100m final and the remainder of the national championships.

"I will seek treatment immediately and hope to show fitness at the London Anniversary Games on July 22 to earn selection for the Olympic Games in Rio."

Jamaica’s Usain Bolt grimacing after feeling discomfort in his hamstring during the first round of the 100m at the Jamaican Olympic trials. He was later diagnosed with a minor tear. PHOTO: REUTERS

A Grade 1 tear is classified as the most minor of hamstring injuries. Grade 2 is typically a partial tear while Grade 3 is a complete tear that might require months to heal.

Bolt had clocked 10.04sec to win his semi-final after a poor start.

His withdrawal does not mean he will miss the Aug 5-21 Rio Olympics, where the 29-year-old will be seeking his third consecutive Olympic titles in the 100m, 200m and 4x100m relay.

Unlike the United States, where the first three finishers in the trials win Olympic berths, Jamaica's selection policy allows medical exemptions.

Glen Mills, coach of the sprint superstar, said Bolt injured his right hamstring in the first round of the 100m on Thursday after his race was delayed for several minutes.

The visibly upset superstar departed the competition area after that run without talking to reporters.

Mills said that efforts had been made since Thursday night to get Bolt ready for Friday's semi-final and final. "The therapist did a good job working on him but in a couple of hours to come and run, he felt it again," he said.

"Hamstring injuries are always serious. The fact that he couldn't run, showed it is serious, but we'll see what happens between now and (the Olympics)."

However, Garth Gayle, the general secretary for the Jamaican Athletics Administration Association, said on Friday that unless Bolt showed up for his 200m yesterday, he could lose that place on the Olympic team.

That would end his bid to become the first to win the 100m-200m double at three Olympics running.

"Bolt has very smart people in his camp and they will know what to do," Gayle said.

Later on Friday, in Eugene, Allyson Felix kept her dream of completing a rare double at the Rio Games alive but a tearful Olympic 400m champion Sanya Richards-Ross brought the curtain down on her career at the US Olympic trials.

Felix, who is bidding to become only the third woman to win a 200m-400m double at the same Olympics, eased through the opening round of the 400m just minutes after Richards-Ross pulled up injured in an earlier race.

"My hamstring grabbed me," the 31-year-old Richards-Ross, who announced earlier she would retire this year, said after stopping 250 metres into the race.

"I've had an amazing career... No Rio. That's the toughest part. You really want to go to the Olympics."


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on July 03, 2016, with the headline 'Bolt in race for fitness'. Print Edition | Subscribe