Usain Bolt pulls out of final warm-up race with injury
Olympic gossip: Sprinter's withdrawal raises new fitness fears; Team GB set for record medal haul
DOUBLE Olympic champion Usain Bolt has triggered new concerns over his readiness for London 2012 after withdrawing from his final warm-up race with injury.
Speculation about Bolt's condition hit the headlines last weekend when the sprinter suffered shock back-to-back losses to Yohan Blake at the Jamaican National Championships. The Bolt team dismissed fitness concerns at the time, despite the 25-year-old receiving medical attention on the track for a cramped right thigh.
Now the man who promised to do something special in London has admitted he is carrying a "light" injury. The extent of the problem is not known, but it is serious enough to force Bolt out of his planned 200m in Monaco on 20 July – his final preparation race before the Olympics.
The BBC reports Bolt's coach Glen Mills said they took the decision to give the runner "sufficient time for treatment and time to train and prepare for the Olympic Games". Whether Bolt returns to full fitness in time or not, there's little doubt that his aura of invincibility has gone for good.
TEAM GB SET FOR RECORD-BREAKING MEDAL HAUL
UK sport, the body that oversees elite sport in this country, has predicted that the national team could be on course for a record-breaking Games. It calculated that Britain should pick up between 40 and 70 medals at the Olympics - at Beijing in 2008 the team scooped 47, including 19 golds, which was six more than had been predicted. Rowing, sailing and cycling are expected to take just under half of this year’s haul, with swimming and athletics hopefully providing between 10 and 15 medals. UK Sport's chief executive Liz Nicholl told The Independent that the middle of the range, around 55, was "probable".
UK ATHLETES APPEAL AGAINST NON-SELECTION
British athletes who failed to get into Team GB have begun formally appealing against the selection decisions of UK Athletics head coach Charles van Commenee. Marilyn Okoro, Emma Jackson and Jemma Simpson were all overlooked for women's 800m places in favour of Lynsey Sharp, whose silver at this weekend's European championships in Helsinki convinced Van Commenee that she was the best chance of a medal in London. The forthright Dutchman said of those that missed the cut: "Not one of these athletes took control of their destiny; they made it difficult by not doing what they were supposed to do."
TEEN TO BE YOUNGEST US OLYMPIC SHOWJUMPER
Reed Kessler, a 17-year-old from Armonk, New York, will become the youngest ever American Olympic showjumper when she competes in the London Games. Kessler, who turns 18 next week, which is the minimum age for the event, qualified for the US team at the national trials last month. At the other end of the age scale will be Japan's Hiroshi Hoketsu, who will take part in the Olympic dressage event in Greenwich at the ripe old age of 71. Hoketsu first participated in the 1964 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, and will be the second oldest Olympian in the event, trailing Austria's Arthur von Pongracz who was 72 when he competed in Berlin in 1936.
PAULA RADCLIFFE RUNNING OUT OF TIME
British marathon runner Paula Radcliffe has been struck down by a foot injury that could jeopardise her chances of running at the Olympics. The 38-year-old, who holds the marathon world record but has never won an Olympic medal, is unlikely to have another competitive chance in the event. "The joint in my foot has been giving me a bit of a problem," she said yesterday. "Hopefully everything should be all right. I know that at 38 I don't have as strong a chance as previous years, but there's still a chance."