(Reuters) – Andre de Grasse, the triple Olympic sprint medalist, has pulled out of the World Athletics Championships in London with injury, boosting Usain Bolt’s chances of a golden swansong.
The Canadian was expected to be Bolt’s main rival for his 100 meters crown in the Jamaican’s farewell championship but he suffered a hamstring strain in training on Monday and will miss the rest of the season.
“The entire year this 100m race in London was my focus. I am really in the best shape of my life and was looking forward to competing against the best in the world,” 22-year-old De Grasse said in a statement.
“To not have this opportunity is unimaginable to me but it is the reality I am now faced with.
“I am sad to miss this chance but I am young and with treatment and rehabilitation I will be back and better than ever in the near future.”
His manager Paul Doyle told Reuters the sprinter had suffered a grade two hamstring strain to his right leg.
“We tried to do everything we could to have him ready but he’s just not going to be ready,” Doyle said.
“Further MRI results today showed it’s probably going to be another four to six weeks before he’s fully recovered.
“So unfortunately he’s out of the 100 meters, 200 meters and the relay and done for the season.”
De Grasse, who won the Olympic 200m silver and bronzes in the 100m and 4 x 100m relay, had been due to line up in the 100m heats on the Championships’ opening day on Friday as the first part of another triple medal bid.
He had recorded the fastest time of the year, albeit strongly wind-assisted, of 9.69 seconds in Stockholm in June and had been shaping up as the man most likely to spoil the script in Bolt’s final Championship.
De Grasse first came on Bolt’s radar last year at the Rio Games when the confident Canadian pushed him hard in the 200m semi-finals, prompting the Jamaican to wag his finger at the youngster.
The pair had seemed to get on well but the atmosphere between them had evidently chilled a little this year, if Bolt’s comments at a media conference in London on Tuesday were anything to go by.
Asked who might fill his shoes after he retires, Bolt made what appeared to be a pointed reference to De Grasse when he responded: “I’m not going down that road. The last guy I said was going to be great disrespected me.”
This was thought to be in response to De Grasse suggesting Bolt might be slowing down in his final season.
Also, there had been a claim from De Grasse’s team that Bolt had tried to get the Canadian ousted from the 100m that he was running at the Diamond League meeting in Monaco — a suggestion of ‘running scared’ that the Jamaican vehemently denied.
De Grasse’s absence from the 100m unquestionably boosts Bolt’s chances of ensuring he adds an eighth individual World Championship gold to his incredible tally in his final solo race on Saturday.
(Reporting by Kayon Raynor, Writing by Ian Chadband; Editing by Ian Ransom)