PARIS _ Slowed by an injured left leg, Usain Bolt withdrew Tuesday from this month’s Diamond League meetings in Paris and Lausanne, dealing a blow to his title defence preparations for the world championships in August.
“I’m disappointed not to be able to compete in Paris and Lausanne,” Bolt said in a statement on his website. “I love running at these meetings but at the moment I am unable to compete at 100 per cent. I look forward to getting back into full training as soon as possible.”
The statement said the 28-year-old “has been feeling discomfort in his left leg since his last competition which has restricted his training.”
Bolt’s last race was a 200 metres in New York on June 13 that he described as “really bad.” His time of 20.29 was more than a second off his world record of 19.19. He said then that he felt good physically and was bewildered why he ran what he called “probably one of the worst turns I’ve ever had in my entire life.”
Bolt also was a no-show at the Jamaica trials last week where he had been expected to sharpen his sprinting form against the likes of Asafa Powell and Yohan Blake.
Bolt’s agent, Ricky Simms, said then that the 100- and 200-meter world record holder was never certain to run at the trials and suggested that Bolt’s coach, Glen Mills, instead preferred him to train rather than race ahead of the Paris meet on Saturday and the Lausanne event on July 9.
Bolt’s doctor in Munich, Hans-Wilhelm Mueller-Wohlfahrt, diagnosed a blocked joint “which is restricting his movement and putting pressure on his knee and ankle,” the statement on Bolt’s website said.
It said Bolt will spend the next couple of days in Munich getting treatment “after which he will resume full training in his quest to defend his titles” in the 100 and 200 at the world championships in Beijing.
Bolt has a proven record of raising his level for major championships. But his injury and interrupted training would seem to strengthen Justin Gatlin as favourite for the worlds.
At age 33, Gatlin has never run better, coasting to the 200 title at the U.S. championships Sunday in a meet record and personal best 19.57 seconds. In May, he ran a personal best 9.74 _ the world-leading time this year _ to win the 100 at the opening Diamond League meet of the season in Doha.
Gatlin, who returned to the track in 2010 after serving a four-year doping suspension, has an automatic bye to the worlds courtesy of his 2014 Diamond League title.