Akani Simbine’s quest for World Championships silverware got that much easier on Thursday, with the withdrawal of Olympic sprint medallist Andre de Grasse, writes Mark Etheridge.
The Canadian sprinter has pulled out of the IAAF World Championships in London, blaming a muscle tear.
Announcing his withdrawal, the 22-year-old said in a statement: ‘Earlier this week in practice, I suffered a hamstring tear that has forced me to withdraw from the World Championships.
‘Injuries are a part of the sport, and the timing of this one is especially unfortunate. While I’m in the best shape of my life and extremely disappointed that I will not have the chance to compete for my country in London, I can’t forget or be ungrateful for the successes that I’ve been blessed with up to this point in my career.
‘Thank you to my family, friends and fans that have supported me all the way. I’ll be back stronger and faster than ever.’
While his season-best 100m time of ‘only’ 10.01 seconds possibly belies De Grasse’s claim to be in the best shape of his life, he would nevertheless have been a big threat to Simbine’s medal charge.
He made the Olympic final in Rio last year, where he ran his personal best time of 9.91sec to bag bronze. Simbine was fifth in the same race, with a time of 9.94sec.
This year, Simbine has dipped under the 10sec barrier on eight occasions (albeit five of them at altitude). His quickest at sea level is the 9.99sec he ran in racing to a maiden Diamond League victory in Doha, and since then he’s twice run the same time in Europe.
De Grasse’s withdrawal will also make things easier for Wayde van Niekerk, who is doubling up in the 200/400m events this year. De Grasse was runner-up to Bolt over the 200m in Rio last year.
Picture of Simbine courtesy of Roger Sedres/ImageSA