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Andre De Grasse ‘booted’ from Usain Bolt race, coach says

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Andre De Grasse was left out of a potential Diamond League 100m race against Usain Bolt in Monaco on Friday, per Bolt’s wishes, the coach of De Grasse reportedly said.

De Grasse, the Olympic 100m bronze medalist and 200m silver medalist, is entered in the 4x100m relay only in Monaco (Friday, 2 p.m. ET, NBCSN and NBC Sports Gold).

“We were in the [100m] race. We got booted out. That’s all on Bolt,” Stuart McMillan said, according to CBC. “Let’s just say he wanted not such an elite field against him.”

“The fastest guy in the world gets to choose the field,” McMillan added, according to the Canadian Press. “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.”

A deleted tweet from De Grasse’s account on Wednesday said McMillan’s reasoning was “believable.”

“He’s got to be smarter this late in his career,” the tweet read. “He and his coach know he has to pick his spots. His aim is worlds. The story is believable.”

Bolt’s team denied playing a role in De Grasse’s exclusion, according to the Telegraph.

Bolt, who is on a four-year winning streak going into the last two meets of his career in Monaco and at August’s world championships, is known for rarely facing his chief rivals outside of major meets.

De Grasse, in addition to sharing the Rio medal podium with Bolt three times, has run the fastest 100m this year under all conditions (9.69 seconds with a massive tailwind). De Grasse has failed to break 10 seconds in five wind-legal races this year, but so has Bolt in his two starts against lackluster competition.

In 2012, Bolt reportedly said he did not think he should race countryman and training partner Yohan Blake, then his biggest threat, more than once or twice a year.

“You play the rivalry down if you always compete against each other,” Bolt said in September 2012, according to Reuters. “Top athletes should compete maybe two or three times maximum. If you always compete people get bored, and they know who’ll win.”

In 2012, Blake cited “big money” for why he and Bolt didn’t race each other more often, though Bolt’s agent has said it’s not about that.

Appearance fees and sponsors can complicate top sprinters from facing each other. Bolt and De Grasse both wear Puma.

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MORE: Bolt: Nobody is running fast this year

Emmanuel Korir nearly falls, comes back to win 800m at Pre Classic

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Kenyan Emmanuel Korir overcame getting tripped with 200 meters left to win the 800m on the first day of the Prefontaine Classic on Friday.

Korir was leading when Botswana’s Nijel Amos‘ spike clipped his leg. Korir stumbled, took six steps inside the rail and ceded the lead to Amos, the 2012 Olympic silver medalist.

But Korir overtook Amos on the final straight, winning in 1:45.16, .35 ahead of Amos. The race lacked double Olympic champion and world-record holder David Rudisha, who hasn’t raced since July 4 due to injury.

Korir, 22, ran the fastest 800m in the world last year but was eliminated in the semifinals at the world championships.

Full Pre Classic results are here.

In other events, world champion Sam Kendricks beat the last two Olympic champions in the pole vault, clearing 5.81 meters.

Surprise Rio Olympic gold medalist Thiago Braz of Brazil no-heighted at Pre for a second straight year in his first outdoor meet in 10 months. London Olympic champ and world-record holder Renaud Lavillenie didn’t fare much better, exiting at 5.71 meters for fifth place. Lavillenie still holds the top clearance in the world this year of 5.95 meters.

Rio gold medalist Thomas Röhler led a German javelin sweep, throwing a meet record 89.88 meters. World champion Johannes Vetter, who was second with an 89.34-meter throw, still ranks No. 1 in the world this year at 92.70.

In the two-mile, Ethiopian Selemon Barega upset Olympic 5000m silver medalist Paul Chelimo, outsprinting the American and clocking 8:20.01. Chelimo was second in 8:20.91.

The Pre Classic continues Saturday on NBC and NBC Sports Gold with streaming coverage starting at 2:50 p.m. ET.

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Allyson Felix withdraws from Prefontaine Classic

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Allyson Felix withdrew on the eve of the Prefontaine Classic and will miss Saturday’s anticipated 400m showdown with Olympic champion Shaunae Miller-Uibo and world champion Phyllis Francis.

No reason was given by the meet director at a Friday press conference, according to media in Eugene, Ore.

Felix, a nine-time Olympic medalist and 16-time world outdoor championships medalist, was scheduled to race on the top international level for the first time since Aug. 20. She has raced in smaller meets this season, most recently last Friday.

This is the one year in the four-year cycle without an Olympics or world outdoor championships, making the Diamond League, and the Pre Classic in particular, marquee meets.

“In the 19 years that I’ve been running track, I’ve never taken a break,” the 32-year-old Felix said in an Instagram video Thursday after an intense training session but before her name was taken off Saturday’s start list. “Never had a year where I took it easy. … Now that this is kind of a year without a championship, I’ve had to force myself to have a different approach because my goal is 2020. … To be able to be at my best when it counts, I think that means not having as intense of a year as I usually do. Being a competitor and an athlete, that’s something that I struggle with. … This year, that’s what I’m really trying to force myself to do is have quality races, quality over quantity. … So, if you guys don’t see me at as many of the races as I usually run, don’t worry, I’m fine, I’m just challenging myself to be smarter.”

Felix will miss the Pre Classic for the second time in the last nine years. She was absent in 2016 with an ankle injury.

The USATF Outdoor Championships are in one month.

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