DAEGU, South Korea — Asafa Powell has been ruled out of the 100 meters at the world championships because of a groin injury, eliminating defending champion Usain Bolt’s biggest rival from the marquee event.
Powell’s manager Paul Doyle told The Associated Press on Thursday that the injury sustained several weeks ago was still giving the fastest man of the season trouble. He added that the Jamaican could be fit by the time of the 4×100 relay during the final weekend of the championships.
“The groin strain is still lingering,” Doyle said. “He is not quite 100 percent.”
The 100-meter heats open on Saturday and the race is traditionally the highlight of the championships. It is also the opening race in Bolt’s quest for three sprint gold medals.
American rival Tyson Gay was injured in June and two other top performers are not in Daegu because of doping scandals, leaving Bolt with few credible challengers.
Powell had been running fast all through the season until he pulled out of the Crystal Palace Diamond League meet on Aug. 5 as a precautionary measure to protect his groin.
Doyle said it would take up to four more days to have a full recovery and did not rule him out for the Sept. 4 relay final. With Bolt, Jamaica is favored to win that race and defend its title.
Still, the withdrawal was a blow to the Jamaican team, which is seeking to extend sprint domination over the United States established at the Beijing Olympics.
“He is one of our top athletes,” Jamaican federation president Howard Aris said. “His not being able to compete (in the relay) would be a big, big disappointment for us.”
Powell has been Jamaica’s anchor in the relays, taking the baton from Bolt on the final bend to take it home for gold in Beijing and in Berlin at the 2009 worlds.
In the 100, Powell is a former world-record holder and always showed promise to take a global title before disappointing at the event itself. He won bronze at the past two world championships.
At 28, Powell was primed for success this year. He ran 9.78 seconds in Lausanne, Switzerland, on June 30 for the top time of the season and narrowly lost by .02 seconds to Bolt in Rome on May 26.
But Doyle said the succession of three races over the weekend would have been too much at this stage for Powell.
“The running of the rounds would be problematic,” he said, adding the decision to pull out of the 100 was taken after extensive testing of Powell’s groin in Daegu. “The next day, it is still very sore again.”
Because of the injuries and no-shows because of doping issues, the top performer in Daegu is Richard Thompson of Trinidad and Tobago with a time of 9.85. Bolt’s best time this season is 9.86.
With Powell out, Jamaican teammate Michael Frater will run in the 100.
“I didn’t come here expecting to run the 100 but unfortunately Asafa wasn’t able to make it,” Frater said. “I’m here and I am ready to go.”
Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press
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