Big London test for Bolt
There have been many questions about Jamaican superstar sprinter Usain Bolt since he had to end his participation in Jamaica's Olympics trials due to injury at the beginning of the month.
Would he be selected by the Jamaican authorities despite missing both 100m and 200m finals? Will he recover in time to prove his fitness? Will injuries derail his charge for a medal like it had threatened to for much of last season?
For the second straight year, Bolt is in London to provide some answers and show that he is still the best.
The six-time Olympic champion returns to the London Olympic Stadium today, where he will line up in the men's 200m at the two-day Muller Anniversary Games the 10th stop in the IAAF Diamond League series.
Bolt was named to Jamaica's track and field team to the Olympics as one of four athletes in both the 100m and 200m after receiving a medical exemption from the Jamaican trials following his injury, but is expected to confirm himself as one of the three who will be selected to compete in each event in Rio with a strong run here today.
He has recovered extremely well from the hamstring strain that caused panic among his supporters earlier this month and is looking forward to today's outing and the ones that await in the Brazilian city, with vintage Bolt confidence.
"Rio? I'll be there, I will definitely be there," said Bolt. "I am looking forward to it. I am excited to go. This is where history will be made, and I am looking to going there, doing my best, and putting on a show for the world to see.
"I'm really excited about this. It's my final Olympics, it's a big one, and I really want to make a big mark. Yes, there was a slight setback, but the good thing is that I started off my season very well and got a few good races in, so it's not as bad as it was last season."
Those 'good races' included a 9.88 run at the Racers Grand Prix in June this after a terrible start and an easy finish.
"I'm happy with the progress I'm making ... It's all about
execution right now," he added. "I was never really worried about missing the Olympics because I was in pretty good shape before I had to pull out of the trials."
Before he gets there, today's 'test' his first 200m race since winning gold at the World Championships last year will have fellow Jamaican Nickel Ashmeade, Christophe Lemaitre and Alonso Edwards among its cast. As eager as those are, Bolt is sure to get an honest challenge for much of this contest. And if his final training session on Wednesday evening was anything to go by, something in the high 19.8s or low 19.9s region is certainly on the cards here.
Quarter-miler Stephenie-Ann McPherson is in the best form we've seen from her all season after registering three consecutive sub-51 seconds runs for the first time all year. She will also be in action on the opening day of competition with Rio gold-medal prospect Shaunae Miller from The Bahamas and Americans Natasha Hastings and Francena McCorory, as well as local favourite Christine Ohuruogu also listed to compete.
McPherson won her last Diamond League assignment in Oslo on June 9 and has not finished behind anybody since then. A win here would be somewhat of a surprise and a big boost ahead of her trip to Rio.
Everton Clarke, Michael Frater, and Julian Forte are all listed to feature in the men's 100m event and could form part of Jamaica's team along with Nickel Ashmeade, that will run in a 4x100m relay tomorrow with a women's team also being attempted by the JAAA.
Tomorrow's action will feature Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce in the 100m with Olympics-bound youngster Christania Williams, Remona Burchell and the in-form Simone Facey, with Damar Forbes (long jump), Aisha Praught (3,000m steeplechase) and O'Dayne Richards (shot put) and Chanice Porter (long jump) set to compete.
Women's 400m - 2:05 p.m.
- Stephenie-Ann McPherson
Men's 100m - 2:15 p.m.
- Julian Forte, Michael Frater, Everton Clarke
Men's 200m - 3:52 p.m.
- Usain Bolt, Nickel Ashmeade