LONDON, Aug 5 (Reuters) - Jamaica’s Asafa Powell remains the nearly man of sprinting after pulling up injured in the Olympic 100 metres final won by compatriot Usain Bolt on Sunday.
Powell got a good start and was in contention at halfway but he suddenly slowed and jogged across the line in 11.99, over two seconds behind the seventh-placed finisher Richard Thompson of Trinidad & Tobago.
Meanwhile, Bolt, who ran an Olympic record of 9.63, was already on his victory lap with his training partner Yohan Blake, second in 9.75.
Powell dropped to one knee and looked at the result showing on the big screen just above the brightly burning Olympic flame. He was the only man not to break 10 seconds.
As 80,000 people chanted ‘Usain, Usain’ and the stands flickered with the light of camera flashes, Powell quietly disappeared into the bowels of the stadium to face the waiting media.
“I injured myself. It felt good being out there in the final but I wanted to do something different. I injured my groin,” Powell told reporters, the disappointment clearly etched on his face.
The sight of Bolt’s back has taunted Powell since his younger rival burst on to the scene in 2007.
Powell has held the world record and is the most prolific sub-10 seconds sprinter of all time but the only individual medals he has from the major championships are world bronzes from 2007 and 2009.
That and his fifth-placed finishes at the 2004 and 2008 Olympics raised questions about Powell’s mental strength but he told reporters before the Shanghai Diamond League meeting in May he had pinpointed the problem.
The 29-year-old may have cured any mental fragility but that cannot be said of his body.
Powell missed the 2011 world championships with a groin injury and pulled out of the London Grand Prix last month with a similar problem.
He has previously said he has no plans to retire and has not ruled out racing on until the 2016 Games in Brazil. His body, however, may have other ideas.
Editing by Ed Osmond