Bolt back on planet earth, says Greene

Aug 26, 2011, 4:46 a.m.
World record holder Usain Bolt of Jamaica poses after a news conference ahead of the IAAF World Athletics Championships in Daegu August 25, 2011. REUTERS/Lee Jae-Won

By Nick Mulvenney

DAEGU, South Korea (Reuters) - Maurice Greene thinks that but for a string of withdrawals and bans, Usain Bolt's three-year monopoly on the sprint titles at major championships could have come to an end in the 100 meters in Daegu this weekend.

Bolt won the 100 and 200 meters with world record times at both the 2008 Olympics and 2009 world championships and remains an overwhelming favorite to retain his iron grip on the sprint events in South Korea with four of his main rivals absent.

The Jamaican has been in less dominant form this year after his return from the back injury that ended his 2010 season, though, and former world record holder Greene thinks he was starting to look vulnerable.

"If you've seen in the past, he was so far ahead of everybody else, now he's barely winning and if you really pay attention to his running technique, he's changed it a little bit," American Greene, who successfully defended the 100 world title twice, said in Daegu.

"He's doing a couple of things differently to what he's been doing which is not allowing him to be the Usain that runs on a different planet.

"It's just technical stuff," the 37-year-old added. "His foot placement is a little off, I mean, it's off more than it was before because it was never that great.

"He's doing different things."

The good news for Bolt is that his most likely challengers, American Tyson Gay and fellow Jamaican Asafa Powell, will not be on the track when the first round of the 100 meters takes place on Saturday.

Gay, who won the sprint double at the 2007 world championships, withdrew from the U.S. trials in June because of a hip injury.

Powell's participation in the 100m at Daegu was ended on Thursday when the former world record holder withdrew with a groin injury.

Jamaican Steve Mullings and American Mike Rodgers, two other sprinters who have run better times than Bolt this year, will miss the championships because of doping violations.

Bolt admitted on Thursday he was not in "tip-top" condition but remained confident he could retain his titles in Daegu and take another step toward becoming a "legend" of the sport.

If anywhere, Bolt has always been thought to be most vulnerable at the start of the 100m before he gets fully into his stride.

Greene believes, however, that the very dominance the Jamaican has enjoyed in recent years could make him vulnerable down the stretch.

"He's going to run whatever time he runs," Greene added. "If he's running where he is at 70 or 75 meters, and somebody comes and goes by him, he's not going to be able to move and go with him.

"It's going to be trouble for him. He's never been in that position."

(Editing by Justin Palmer)

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