Usain Bolt withdraws from Jamaican Olympic Trials with torn hamstring

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Jeff Eisenberg
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Usain Bolt (AP)
Usain Bolt (AP)

The man who has dominated track and field’s glamour events for almost a decade may be at less than full strength in Rio, if he can even run at all.

Two-time 100- and 200-meter Olympic gold medalist Usain Bolt withdrew from Jamaica’s Olympic Trials on Friday night after suffering a torn hamstring.

Bolt complained of a tight hamstring after his preliminary 100 heat on Thursday night. He won his semifinal in a pedestrian 10.04 seconds on Friday, but the pain resurfaced, forcing him to pull out of the final.

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Whereas USA Track and Field only takes athletes who finish in the top three in their respective events at the Olympic Trials, Jamaican athletes don’t face quite so much pressure. Their federation allows for medical exemptions if the athlete in question can get healthy in time for the Olympics.

Jamaica will surely give Bolt the benefit of the doubt considering his remarkable run of success the past decade. Bolt owns six Olympic gold medals, 11 first place finishes at the World Championships and the world record in both the 100 and 200 meters.

If Bolt cannot run next month in Rio, that opens the door for some of the sprinters who have been in his shadow.

Former Olympic gold medalist Justin Gatlin lost to Bolt in the 100 by just one hundredth of a second at the World Championships last summer and is the favorite to capture first place at the U.S. Olympic Trials on Sunday. Bolt’s countryman Yohan Blake won the Jamaican national championship on Friday in his absence and is also a viable contender.