There was a jolt for the Lightning Bolt in Daegu yesterday. News that Asafa Powell had withdrawn from the field for the 100m at the World Championships clearly came as a shock to Usain Bolt.
"Asafa is out?" Bolt enquired, when he asked for his reaction at a Jamaican team press conference. "This is the first I'm hearing about that. I can't really answer that question."
Powell, the Jamaican who heads the 100m world rankings in 2011 with a time of 9.78sec, and who maintained he had "a 99 per cent chance" of taking Bolt's 100m crown in Sunday's final, has fallen victim to the groin strain that ruled him out of the Aviva London Grand Prix at Crystal Palace two weeks ago.
The sprinter's agent, Paul Doyle, said in a statement: "Asafa has received all sorts of treatments over the past two weeks but today he made the final decision not to run. He feels he would not be 100 per cent and may have trouble coming back after each round. He is very disappointed to say the least."
Powell has not ruled out being recovered in time for the 4 x 100m relay but his withdrawal from the 100m means the traditional blue-riband event will be without the four-fastest men in the world this year – Tyson Gay (injury), Steve Mullings and Mike Rodgers (both positive drugs tests) having already been ruled out. At least Bolt will be lining up for the heats on the opening day tomorrow, though not in the kind of shape he was in when he clocked his world record 9.58sec at the 2009 World Championships in Berlin.
"I'm not in tip-top shape, which I was in Berlin," Bolt conceded. "This season for me is a comeback season from injury. I don't think I'm in 9.5sec shape but I'll be aiming to run fast."