LONDON – One of the biggest rivals to Usain Bolt’s bid for a golden finale in London has pulled out of the IAAF World Championships.
Andre de Grasse had been due to line up in the 100 metres heats Friday but announced in the early hours of Thursday morning that he tore a hamstring in one of his final training runs.
De Grasse took silver and bronze in the 200m and 100m respectively behind Bolt at last summer’s Olympics, and the 22-year-old is seen by many as the natural sprint successor to the Jamaican, who retires after these championships.
The Canadian suffered what he called “a grab” in his hamstring during a final starting blocks session at Mile End Stadium on Monday evening.
He flew to Munich to be treated by Dr Hans-Wilhelm Muller-Wohlfahrt, who also treats Bolt, but the German doctor diagnosed a grade two hamstring strain in his right leg, thereby ruling out competing in London.
De Grasse said: “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.
“To not have this opportunity is unimaginable to me but it is the reality I am now faced with. I am sad to miss the chance but I am young and, with treatment and rehabilitation, I will be back better than ever in the near future.”
He is expected to be out for another four to six weeks, meaning, said his agent Paul Doyle, “he’s out of the 100m, 200m, the relay and done for the season”.
De Grasse had been in good form going into the championships. He ran a time of 9.69 seconds to win in Stockholm, although it was heavily wind assisted, and was heavily tipped by many as the man to push Bolt in the 100m when the championships get under way Friday.
The pair had previously enjoyed a good relationship on track, laughing and joking when the young pretender tried to beat Bolt in the qualifying rounds, Bolt smiling as he crossed the line marginally in front.
But that mutual respect has turned to animosity – a war of words of sorts between the pair when De Grasse’s coach, Stuart McMillan, accused Bolt of getting his athlete kicked out of the 100m race at the recent Diamond League meeting in Monaco.
In a barb towards De Grasse earlier this week, Bolt – when asked about his likely successor – said: “I am not going down that road.
“The last guy I said would be great disrespected me, so I am not going to say who will be great. I am just going to leave it to whoever shows up and is willing to fill my shoes. We will wait.”
There is no shortage of suitors in London to Bolt’s sprint crown. American Christian Coleman boasts the quickest legitimate time over 100m this season (9.82 sec), while Bolt’s training partner Yohan Blake has also shown a return to form after injury problems.
Of the other experienced heads, Justin Gatlin has hinted he could upstage the world’s fastest man.