Usain Bolt opens Jamaican Olympic Trials without the doubt of 2012

Usain Bolt
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The Jamaican Olympic Track and Field Trials begin Thursday in Kingston (meet site here), and they have less fanfare than four years ago.

That’s because there is no doubt Usain Bolt is the island’s best sprinter. That wasn’t the case in 2012.

Bolt was beaten in the Jamaican Trials 100m and 200m by younger training partner Yohan Blake four years ago. Bolt still made the team in second place, but it meant that he went into the Games as less than the massive favorite he was at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Bolt reversed those Trials results at the London Games, taking gold to Blake’s silver in the 100m and 200m. And Blake hasn’t been the same since, with hamstring injuries plaguing him for much of this Olympic cycle. Blake is not assured of making the Jamaican Olympic team in the 100m and 200m.

Bolt, Blake and former world-record holder Asafa Powell headline the 100m that begins Thursday. The semifinals and final are Friday night, with the top three in line to make the Olympic team individually, plus more for the relay.

The 200m, where Bolt is an even bigger favorite, is on Saturday and Sunday.

On June 11, Bolt won what amounted to an Olympic Trials preview, also in Kingston. He stumbled in his first several steps but still clocked 9.88 seconds, his fastest time this early in a year since 2012.

Nickel Ashmeade and Blake were second and third, both in 9.94 seconds, with Powell crossing in 9.98.

Bolt’s time makes him the second-fastest man in the world this year behind France’s Jimmy Vicaut, a rising 24-year-old whose best Olympic or world championships 100m finish is sixth.

Justin Gatlin, considered Bolt’s biggest rival, has not been as fast this spring as in 2015.

Also at Jamaican Trials, two-time Olympic women’s 100m champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce faces questions about her form given a recent toe injury.

She last raced June 11, when she clocked 11.09 in a 100m, which ranks her fifth among Jamaicans this year.

The benefit for Fraser-Pryce is that Jamaica has only two other established star sprinters posting fast times — two-time Olympic 200m champion Veronica Campbell-Brown and world 200m silver medalist Elaine Thompson — and of course three women make the Olympic team each in the 100m and 200m.

MORE: Bolt says ‘not a problem’ if he must return gold medal in Carter case

Mo Farah likely to retire this year

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British track legend Mo Farah will likely retire by the end of this year.

“I’m not going to go to the Olympics, and I think 2023 will probably be my last year,” the 39-year-old Farah said, according to multiple British media reports.

Farah, who swept the 5000m and 10,000m golds at the Olympics in 2012 and 2016, was announced Tuesday as part of the field for the London Marathon on April 23.

Last May, Farah reportedly said he believed his career on the track was over, but not the roads.

London might not be his last marathon. Farah also said that if, toward the end of this year, he was capable of being picked to run for Britain again, he would “never turn that down,” according to Tuesday’s reports.

It’s not clear if Farah was referencing the world track and field championships, which include a marathon and are in Budapest in August. Or selection for the 2024 British Olympic marathon team.

The fastest British male marathoner last year ran 2:10:46, ranking outside the top 300 in the world. Farah broke 2:10 in all five marathons that he’s finished, but he hasn’t run one since October 2019 (aside from pacing the 2020 London Marathon).

Farah withdrew four days before the last London Marathon on Oct. 2, citing a right hip injury.

Farah switched from the track to the marathon after the 2017 World Championships and won the 2018 Chicago Marathon in a then-European record time of 2:05:11. Belgium’s Bashir Abdi now holds the record at 2:03:36.

Farah’s best London Marathon finish in four starts was third place in 2018.

Farah returned to the track in a failed bid to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics, then shifted back to the roads.

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Kendall Gretsch wins six gold medals at Para Nordic Ski Worlds

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Kendall Gretsch, who won Paralympic titles at the last Summer and Winter Games, added another six gold medals at the World Para Nordic Skiing Championships in Sweden last week.

Gretsch, 30, earned seven total medals in seven days between biathlon and cross-country skiing.

Gretsch won gold medals in three different sports across the last three Paralympics: biathlon and cross-country skiing in 2018 (two years after taking up the sports), triathlon in 2021 and biathlon in 2022.

She plans to shift her focus back to triathlon after this winter for 2024 Paris Games qualification.

Gretsch, born with spina bifida, was the 2014 USA Triathlon Female Para Triathlete of the Year. Though triathlon was added to the Paralympics for the 2016 Rio Games, her classification was not added until Tokyo.

Also at last week’s worlds, six-time Paralympian Aaron Pike earned his first Paralympic or world championships gold medal in his decade-plus career, winning a 12.5km biathlon event.

Oksana Masters, who won seven medals in seven events at last year’s Paralympics to break the career U.S. Winter Paralympics medals record, missed worlds due to hand surgery.

The U.S. also picked up five medals at last week’s World Para Alpine Skiing Championships in Spain — three silvers for five-time Paralympian Laurie Stephens and two bronzes for 17-year-old Saylor O’Brien.

Stephens now has 18 career medals from world championships, plus seven at the Paralympics.

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