Medical exemption saves Bolt

News post July 7, 2016

Global sprinting superstar Usain Bolt will be named to the Jamaican team to the Rio Olympics at this evening’s meeting of the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association’s (JAAA) Selection Committee in both the 100m and 200m events.

Let’s just get that out of the way at the very start. The medical exemption rule in the JAAA selection criteria is a smart thing and a safeguard built into the system to protect against the very same thing we saw happening with Bolt last Friday when he had to pull out of the championships with an injury that should be cleared up within two weeks. Who cares what the Americans think? Their opinions don’t count towards anything. Mike Rodgers should concentrate on his race and leave Bolt’s and Jamaica’s business alone. Stay in your lane, Mike, literally and figuratively. But I would still love to be a fly on the wall and hear the deliberations for several other athletes, and while I don’t think there will be any major omissions, there could be surprise inclusions.It just would not be Jamaican track and field if there were no drama involved. I expect two top hurdlers who got medical exemptions — Hansle Parchment in the men’s 110m and Janieve Russell in the women’s 400m hurdles — to be included, and I would not be surprised if World Champion Danielle Williams and multiple Diamond League champion Kaliese Spencer were also named. The rule allows for four athletes to be submitted for each event, but only three can enter. Providing that they meet the qualifying performance and prove their fitness, their names will be submitted at the technical meeting usually held a few days before the start of competition. I expect there will be some fireworks and the JAAA selection policies and medical exemption rules will be called into question with at least three instances at last weekend’s National Senior Championships where athletes finished in ‘qualifying positions’ but could miss out. Spencer, for example, was third in the women’s 400m hurdles, behind Ristananna Tracey and Leah Nugent, but which one of the three will be omitted to allow Russell — the best female intermediate hurdler this year — to be selected if she recovers from her quad injury in time and proves her fitness? It is expected that Jevaughn Minzie, who lowered his personal best three times on his way to taking third in the men’s 100m, will step aside without fuss to allow Racers training partner Bolt to take his rightful place in the 100m. Will Julian Forte, who was third in the 200m, be as magnanimous to Bolt’s pursuit of the triple-triple- three gold medals in three straight Olympic Games? Technical Leader Maurice Wilson and his staff will have a massive task on their hands, but I suspect by the time August 5 rolls around and the Games start, all this will be a distant memory as the medal hunt gets underway in Brazil.

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