Bolt, Farah headline stellar cast
AFP (GLASGOW) Jamaican sprint star Usain Bolt and middle-distance king Mo Farah headline a stellar track and field line-up at the Commonwealth Games which start in Glasgow on Wednesday.
Bolt, world record holder in both the 100 and 200m as well as double Olympic and world champion, has consistently said since his victories at the Moscow worlds in 2013 that the Commonwealths were his goal, depending on coach Glen Mills’ wishes.
So the strapping Jamaican, arguably the biggest name in world sport, will be in Scotland to give the biggest boost to an event that draws competitors from 71 nations, mainly former British colonies, in 17 sports.
But Bolt, a six-time Olympic gold medallist and making his Commonwealth debut in Glasgow, will likely compete only in the 4x100m relay after missing the Jamaican national championships.
“I do not wish to take the place of anyone who qualifies this weekend in an individual event but am available for relay duty if the selectors feel I can be an asset to the Jamaican team in Glasgow,” said the 27-year-old, who has missed proposed comeback meets in Ostrava and Paris because of a foot injury.
“I have received lots of requests, invitations and messages of support from my fans in Scotland who are looking forward to a great event.”
What event Bolt will actually race remains to be known, he himself having expressed his desire to race his preferred 200m. Track and field will also boast several other household names, notably Farah, who will compete for England.
The Somali-born double Olympic and world 5,000 and 10,000m champion will be going for the double in Scotland’s biggest city after a troubled season during which he has suffered abdominal problems.
Farah had been undecided about whether to compete after finishing eighth in the London Marathon.
But his presence, with the 10,000m final on the opening day, is a fantastic boost for British sport in the wake of the London Olympics, when he won his first gold in an evening session during which Greg Rutherford (long jump) and Jessica Ennis (heptathlon) also triumphed.
UK Athletics performance director Neil Black eased fears over Farah’s medical issues, insisting last week: “Mo has had some challenges with his health which have all been dealt with and he is now phasing back into full training.
“He is really positive about things and he is thinking optimistically about the summer.”
Other notable athletes on show will include David Rudisha, Kenya’s Olympic 800 metres champion and world record holder, and New Zealand’s Olympic and world shot put champion Valerie Adams, who is on an unbeaten streak of 53 competitions.
Rudisha, on his way back from injury, won the Diamond League meet in Glasgow and while not winning in Monaco last week-coming in sixth, his sub-1:43 time indicates he will be in Scotland for gold. For Kenya, the long distance men’s team is hoping to end 12 years of frustration in Glasgow.
After dominating both races at the 2002 Games in Manchester, Kenya have since been overshadowed by their Ugandan rivals in the past two Commonwealth Games in Australia and India.
They also lost the 2012 London Olympics and 2013 world championships 5000m and 10000m titles to Farah.
“We lost the 5,000m and 10,000m in New Delhi four years ago. We cannot make a repeat of the same mistake in Glasgow,” Kenya’s athletics coach Boniface Tiren told AFP.
Bolt’s female teammates Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Veronica Campbell-Brown, albeit the former solely in the relay, will also be on show at Hampden Park in what promises to be one of the best Commonwealth track and field line-ups in many a year.