Wed | Dec 7, 2016

Missing Bolt in Zurich

Published:Thursday | August 28, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Usain Bolt of Jamaica (left) and his compatriot Sheldon Mitchell compete in the men's 100m race during the Kamila Skolimowska Memorial athletics meeting at the National Stadium in Warsaw, Poland, on Saturday, August 23. - AP

THE WORLD is going to miss Usain Bolt at today's Zurich Weltklasse meet.

Ever since he defeated Tyson Gay with a 100-metre world record in New York six years ago, the tall Jamaican has been track's leading light. He's become the king of athletics. When he's missing, it hurts, but it's a good trade.

His 2014 season is reminiscent of his abbreviated 2010 campaign. That short-but-sweet season featured a 44.2-second 4x400 anchor at the Gibson Relays, an 8.8-second 4x100 closer for Jamaica at the Penn Relays, a full tilt boogie 19.56-second 200-metre stadium record at the Jamaica Invitational, a scare of Michael Johnson's 300-metre world record in Ostrava, one other sub 20 200 and four sub 10s in the 100 metres. The last one was an out-of-sync loss to Gay in Stockholm.

He came back after his 'rest year' to win the 2011 World Championships 200 and to complete historic repeat sprint doubles in the London Olympics and last year's World Champs in Moscow.

The 2010 season was short, and this one is even shorter. The tall man hit the gas on anchor-leg duty for Jamaica at the Commonwealth Games. Since then, he has run 10.06 and 9.98 seconds for 100-metre races in Brazil and Poland, respectively.

I'm almost shocked that he could run that fast in this injury-ridden year. The 9.98 makes 2014 his seventh consecutive year under 10 seconds. In addition to carrying the sport, he's been so consistently good.

He's probably sad not to have run even one race this year in his favourite event, the 200 metres. He ran 20.13 as far back as 2003 and has been in the Track & Field News Top 10 world rankings in the curved sprint in each and every season from 2005 onward, with an appearance at number nine in 2003 when he was still a schoolboy. That's a real shame.

By contrast, the US publication first had Bolt in its annual 100-metre world rankings in 2008.

The truth is that everybody, even Bolt, needs rest. With the 2015 World Championships, the Rio Olympics and the 2017 Worlds coming, the only time for Bolt to rest is now. I'd rather him miss Zurich today than risk him being M.I.A. in any of those big ones. It's a no-brainer.

Hubert Lawrrence has scrutinised world athletics since 1980.