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September 12, 2009

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Local organizers scramble as Bolt sits out race

IT'S official: World sprint star Usain Bolt will not be running in the Shanghai Golden Grand Prix athletics competition this month.

Bolt sent the organizers a statement by e-mail yesterday cancelling his appearance here, saying he would end his season at the World Athletics Final in Greece this weekend before returning to his home country of Jamaica.

Organizers of the Shanghai event are now in touch with sprinters Asafa Powell of Jamaica and America's Tyson Gay in a late bid to spur attendance.

There is also an outside chance that Chinese track star Liu Xiang, who won the gold medal in the 110-meter hurdles at the 2004 Athens Olympics, would make his return to the sport in Shanghai after pulling out of the Beijing Games last summer with an ankle injury. So far, however, Liu has not made a commitment to race in his hometown this month.

Bolt, the Olympic and world champion, was scheduled to run the 100 meters in Shanghai on September 20 and in Daegu, South Korea, on September 25.

"I have been suffering from fatigue from as early as the Zurich meet and after careful discussions with my coach and management team, even with medical advice, we felt it necessary to close the season," said a statement on

"The season has been long and has been challenging... and if I compete in the shape I am in, I may be at great risk."

Bolt used a late surge to win the 100 meters in Zurich on August 28 and had been on the road since July 1.

The Shanghai Golden Grand Prix would have been his first race back in China since his three gold medals and three world records at last year's Beijing Olympics, a feat he fell a relay record short of matching at last month's world championships in Berlin.

"I know the Chinese fans will be disappointed, but I beg your understanding as I return home to rest and be prepared for next year's exploits. I thank all of you for your support and I look forward to coming to China next year," the 23-year-old said in the statement.

No mention was made of the Daegu race, but the statement added that Bolt would be back in Jamaica next Monday "to participate in national activities and rest to prepare for next year's hectic schedule."

For the Shanghai event, Russian pole vault queen Yelena Isinbayeva remains one of the few well-known names on the list of competitors.

"The impact brought by Bolt's absence will be inevitable; that's why we are now in touch with the two other well-known sprinters -- Asafa Powell and Tyson Gay -- to try to reduce the effects of the loss. The results will be released early next week." said Cheng Kelun, marketing director of the Shanghai Golden Grand Prix.

He said there will not be a decrease in ticket prices under any circumstances.

Meanwhile, the organizers are still keeping the possibility open that former 110-meter hurdles world champion Liu Xiang might take part in the home event.

"As far as we know, Liu's recovery training has been going on well," Cheng said, adding that Liu's status should be known within days.


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