LONDON – Andre De Grasse won’t get a chance to spoil Usain Bolt’s international finale at the track and field world championships, with a hamstring injury forcing the 22-year-old Canadian to pull out of the meet.
Athletics Canada issued a statement late Wednesday saying the 22-year-old De Grasse hurt his hamstring in training on Monday and made the decision to pull out of the championships after a second medical examination.
“The entire year this 100-meter race in London was my focus,” De Grasse said in the statement. “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 faced with. I am sad to miss this chance but I am young and will be back and better than ever in the near future.”
De Grasse was a leading contender in the 100- and 200-meter events at the worlds, which start Friday in London. At the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, De Grasse took the bronze in the 100 and — after pushing Bolt all the way in the semifinals — claimed silver in the 200.
Athletics Canada head coach Glenroy Gilbert said the timing was terrible for De Grasse, as “I know he really wanted to make a mark here.”
De Grasse made Bolt work harder than expected in the Olympic semifinals in the 200, his favored event. After pulling away — much later than expected — Bolt stared down De Grasse and good-naturedly shook his finger at the youngster for pushing him so hard.
At worlds this week, De Grasse wanted to go one better and beat Bolt in the 100 in the Jamaican great’s last major race before retirement.
“That’s the plan,” De Grasse said ahead of the meet. “I’m the underdog and want to go out there and make a statement.”
Instead, he’ll have to be a spectator when the men’s 100 final is held on Saturday night.
Meanwhile, Mo Farah will, like Bolt, bring the curtain down on his track career at the worlds with he hopes a final double golden flourish.
The 34-year-old Somalia-born Briton — who will switch his focus to road running — can capture his 10th successive world or Olympic title in the 10,000 on Friday.
Then he hopes to bow out in style on the track in London where he achieved his first Olympic double in 2012 with the 5000 on Saturday next week.
That will bring to an end a six-year spell where, like Bolt in the sprints, Farah has dominated.
He broke up the previous hegemony of the Kenyans and Ethiopians, lifting his exploits up above those of legends such as Paavo Nurmi, Lasse Viren, Emil Zatopek, Haile Gebrselassie and Kenenisa Bekele.
However, while many question how the sport will cope without Bolt and his engaging showmanship — lightning bolt and all — perhaps unfairly the same has not been said about the vacuum that Farah will leave in his wake.
Despite his achievements — Olympic (2012, 2016) and world doubles (2013, 2015) at 5000 and 10,000 — the British public has been left largely unmoved.
Only once, in 2011, has he reached the top three in the popular vote for the prestigious BBC Sports Personality of the Year poll.