Bolt to make London return
Usain Bolt (Gallo Images)
London - Usain Bolt has more than Yohan Blake to worry about ahead of the London Olympics. Now he's got an injury to contend with and likely won't run again until the games.
Exactly one month before the 100-meter final at the Olympics, Bolt pulled out of the Monaco Diamond League meet on Thursday after sustaining "a slight problem" at the recent Jamaican Olympic trials, his coach Glen Mills said.
The withdrawal followed the double blow for Bolt of losing in the 100 and 200 to training partner Blake at the trials, a reality check ahead of the Olympics.
Bolt was scheduled to run the 200 in Monaco in his final race before the games, but will now come to the Olympics after two consecutive losses.
Despite his withdrawal from Monaco, the 25-year-old Bolt insisted he'll be at the games to retain the 100, 200 and 4x100 relay titles he won in Beijing four years ago in world-record times.
"I am happy to have earned my spot on the Jamaican Olympic team despite the challenge," Bolt said in a statement. "I will be in London to defend my titles."
After congratulating Blake with a big hug after the 200 in Kingston on Sunday, Bolt lay flat on his back and had his right hamstring stretched out by a trainer. His loss two days earlier in the 100 came after a poor start.
"After careful assessment I have had to withdraw him from the Samsung Diamond League Meeting in Monaco on July 20 to give him sufficient time for treatment and time to train and prepare for the Olympic Games in London," Mills said.
Mills said the injury was from "Usain's participation at the National Trials in Kingston this past weekend where he had a slight problem."
He didn't elaborate on the nature of the injury.
The first-round heats in the 100 at the Olympics are Aug. 4, with the semifinals and final the next day.
Having built a reputation for being unbeatable in the 100 and 200 over the past four years and powering to Olympic and back-to-back world titles in the sprint events, Bolt lost twice in three days to Blake in Kingston.
Sunday's loss in his favored 200, where Bolt grimaced as he crossed the line behind Blake, was the ultimate wake-up call — even if he shrugged it off.
"I can never be discouraged," Bolt insisted after that race. "I'm never worried until my coach gets worried, and my coach isn't worried, so I'm OK."
Despite Bolt's setback at the trials, current and former athletes believe he will be back at his best at the games.
"I found Usain to be a bit labored (at the trials)," American challenger and former 100 world champion Tyson Gay said ahead of Friday's Diamond League meet in Paris. "He gave the impression that he was forcing it, which is unlike him. However, these two races don't change things as regards the London Games.
"Yohan may give the impression today that he's a bit of a cut above the rest ... Usain still has a month to get back into shape. He's a major championships man."
While recognizing the threat posed by Blake, former 200 and 400 Olympic champion Michael Johnson said Bolt was still his pick for gold. The American said Bolt was capable of lowering his 100 world record of 9.58 seconds to 9.4.
"''I think Usain can do whatever he wants to do," Johnson said on the website of the Laureus sports academy. "He's got that type of talent and he wants to win three gold medals again.
"If he gets to the starting line healthy, at his best, everyone else at their best, he wins every time. I mean he's just that good."