Nesta Carter (L), Michael Frater (2nd L), Yohan Blake and Usain Bolt (R) of Jamaica celebrate winning their men’s 4×100 meters relay final at the IAAF World Athletics Championships in Daegu in this September 4, 2011 file photo. Jamaica set a new world record with a time of 37.04 seconds. Usain Bolt and Yohan Blake, the fastest men in the world, storm over the line together in the 100-metres final of the London Olympics – a photo finish. (REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach)
By Justin Palmer
BIRMINGHAM, England, July 24 (Reuters) – Jamaican sprinter Michael Frater “wouldn’t bet against” Usain Bolt retaining his Olympic 100 meters title in London, despite lingering concerns over his fitness and the threat to his track supremacy from compatriot Yohan Blake.
“Usain Bolt is a phenomenon,” Jamaican men’s team captain and 4x100m relay squad member Frater said at Jamaica’s training base at the University of Birmingham in central England on Tuesday. “I wouldn’t bet against him winning again”.
Bolt, who saw training partner and younger rival Blake take in his world title in Daegu, South Korea, last year after he was disqualified from the final for false starting, has had a far from vintage season so far.
He withdrew from last Friday’s Monaco Diamond League meeting, where he had been due to run the 200m, with what his coach Glen Mills called a “slight” problem.
Bolt then traveled to Germany to see renowned sports doctor Hans-Wilhelm Muller-Wohlfahrt but Don Quarrie, Jamaica’s track and field team technical athletics manager, said the 25-year-old triple Olympic champion from Beijing would be “ready to run in London”.
“I can’t really give details regarding his present form but I’m quite sure he is ready to go. He his 101 percent,” Quarrie told reporters.
“He has been working out on the track (at the University of Birmingham) and his performances are close to what he was doing before the 2008 Olympics.”
A few hundred schoolchildren watched a handful of Jamaican athletes going through some warm-ups and light-training on Tuesday in glorious sunshine and under cloudless skies at the leafy campus in the southern suburbs of England’s second city.
The training group did not include Bolt or fellow Olympic sprint champions Veronica Campbell-Brown and Shelley-Anne Fraser-Pryce, while Blake and former 100m world record holder Asafa Powell were also conspicuous by their absence, much to the frustration of a large media gathering.
Asked if he knew where Bolt was, Quarrie retorted: “If you know, tell me”.
“I don’t know why he didn’t come. I’m sure the other Jamaicans were here on his behalf,” he added.
Jamaican team manager Ludlow Watts predicted London could be in “for a surprise” in the 100m final.
“They are both looking well in practice and I can tell you you will see even more surprises,” Watts said of Bolt’s highly-anticipated showdown with Blake, who beat him in both the 100 and 200 at the Jamaican trials in late June and early July.
“But nobody has forgotten Asafa (Powell), because when you have great sprinters lined up in the final any mistake can mean disaster.”