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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