Bolt skips open session


Olympics:Usain Bolt will be 100 per cent fit when the heats of 100 metres at the London Olympics get under way in 11 days’ time, Jamaican team officials insisted today. The world’s fastest man was conspicuous by his absence from the team’s open training session at the University of Birmingham.

Doubts over the defending champion’s fitness have intensified since he was beaten by training partner Yohan Blake over 100 and 200m at the Jamaican Olympic trials at the end of June, while he withdrew from last Friday’s Diamond League meeting in Monaco with a minor hamstring problem.

Fellow sprint star Asafa Powell was also not at today’s training session, leaving some of the team’s less heralded names to entertain the crowd of schoolchildren and students. Jamaican team manager Ludlow Watts said: “By the time he gets to the Olympics Bolt will be competition fit.

“Some times in your preparations there may be certain disruptions, but I believe that he’s adequately prepared. He’s training very well and by August 3 we will see the real Usain Bolt. I am not aware of any niggles at the moment. I believe he’s ok.”

Don Quarrie, the technical athletics manager, added: “He’s 101 per cent, he’s ready. He has been working on the track here. His performances have been close to what he was doing in 2008 before the Olympics. That tells me he’ll be ready to run in London.”

A repeat of the sensation Bolt caused in Beijing, when he broke the 100 and 200m world records in taking double gold, is what organisers and spectators alike are hoping for, but, despite Quarrie’s assurances, his performances so far this summer have suggested it is far from guaranteed.

He is ranked second in the world behind Blake in both events, with season’s bests of 9.76 seconds and 19.83secs. Four years ago he went into the Games with runs of 9.72s and 19.67 under his belt.

His showdown with training partner, good friend and fierce rival Blake is perhaps the most eagerly-anticipated head-to-head clash of the Games. The pair, both members of the Racers Track Club in Kingston, have reportedly trained apart in Jamaica in the run-up to the Games, but they have been training alongside each other at the University of Birmingham track at the team’s training camp.

Blake, dubbed ‘The Beast’ because of his prodigious work ethic, ran 9.75 and 19.80 at the Jamaican trials. The 22-year-old is the world 100m champion, having taken gold in Daegu last year after Bolt false-started, and also ran the second fastest 200m of all time after Bolt in Brussels last September.

But Jamaica’s men’s team captain Michael Frater still fancies the main man to come out on top when it matters. Asked who he thought would win the 100m, Frater, a member of the sprint relay team which will be red hot favourites for gold, said: “That’s a difficult one to say. Usain Bolt is something phenomenal. I wouldn’t bet against him.”

With Powell also in the team for the 100m, a Jamaican one-two-three could be firmly on the cards, even if American pair Tyson Gay and Justin Gatlin will look to spoil the party. Frater added: “We are ready to take on the world. We have a target on our backs right now, but we are very well prepared.

“I think we will be able to handle everything anyone throws at us.”

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