Thursday, 20 July 2017 13:21

Usain Bolt denies claim he had Andre De Grasse 'booted out' of Monaco race

Written by The Telegraph
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Usain Bolt’s management have refuted suggestions that the Jamaican had Canada’s Andre De Grasse “booted out” of tomorrow’s Monaco Diamond League 100m race after reports that the eight-time Olympic champion was running scared of his younger rival.

De Grasse, who won silver and bronze behind Bolt at last year’s Rio Olympics, has been tipped as a natural successor to the Jamaican and was snapped up by Puma – who have long been associated with Bolt – for a seven-figure sum last winter.

De Grasse is due to appear in Monaco, where Bolt will run 100m, but only as part of a Canadian 4x100m relay team – thus avoiding a head-to-head with the Jamaican, who has been well below par so far this campaign.

“Let's just say he wanted not such an elite field against him.

“The fastest guy in the world gets to choose the field. But I don’t blame him at all.

“This is his last year, he’s only raced twice. I totally understand that he doesn’t want to increase the pressure prior to Worlds by going in with a potential loss.

“If anyone deserves the right to choose the field, it’s Bolt.”

However, Bolt’s management have refuted McMillan’s claims, telling Telegraph Sport that they had no role in De Grasse’s exclusion from the race or the make up of the field.

Bolt has raced only twice over 100m so far in his final season before retirement, looking sluggish on both occasions with victories over weak fields in 10.03 seconds in Kingston, Jamaica, and 10.06sec in Ostrava, Czech Republic.

Even without De Grasse, he faces a big step up in Monaco for his last race before next month's London World Championships.

South African Akani Simbine has broken 10 seconds eight times already this year, while the field also contains Britain’s Chijindu Ujah – who ran 9.98sec to win the Rabat Diamond league last week – and four other sprinters who have dipped below the 10-second barrier.

De Grasse raised eyebrows when he ran 9.69sec in Stockholm last month, but that time came with enormous wind assistance and he is yet to run a faster legal time this season than 10.01sec.

Asked at yesterday’s press conference in Monaco whether he feared anyone in particular ahead of his last major championships, Bolt replied: “The youngsters who are coming up are doing great.

“But I’m never worried about any one athlete. You always find youngsters coming up and doing great.

“I respect that and I wish them all the best, but I’m never worried about one person because I know what I’m capable of.”

Having struggled with a back problem in his most recent run in Ostrava, Bolt also insisted he would be fine to defend his world title in London, although he admitted it was “not perfect”.

He said: “I’ve been to the doctor and he’s worked on my back, which has always been an issue.

“It didn’t really stop me from training but it was a little bit difficult. But I’ve been working with the doctor and he’s improved me a lot.

“It’s not perfect but it should be fine.”

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