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Gatlin, Rodgers Have Mixed Feelings About Usain Bolt’s Withdrawal from National Championship

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Usain Bolt and Justin Gatlin compete in the 100-meter dash (Photo via 3jamaica.com)

Usain Bolt’s decision to pull out of Jamaica’s Senior National Championships because of injury has drawn mixed reactions from his American sprint rivals ahead of next month’s summer Olympics in Brazil.

“Crazy stuff always happens in an Olympic year,” said Bolt’s main challenger, Justin Gatlin.

“Like anyone else, you have to see what’s going to happen. But c’mon. We’re going to see his face in Rio one way or another.”

The World and Olympic champion was forced to withdraw from the National Championships with a grade one tear of his left hamstring on Friday night.

“I feel like it’s a cop-out. He should run like anybody else,” declared Mike Rodgers, the 2009 U.S. champion at 100 meters.

“But at the end of the day, he’s Bolt. He’s the Olympic champ. He’s the World champ. Until someone beats him, puts him in his place, he’s going to do what he wants to do.”

Track and field rules in the United States allow the top three finishers in each event to qualify, with no exceptions for injuries or past performances.

However the rules are different in Jamaica, where Bolt can earn his spot in the 100m and 200m by showing he is fit enough.

“If I was Bolt in Jamaica, I’d probably pull out, too,” said Shawn Crawford, the 2004 Olympic gold medalist at 200 meters.

“I know my training isn’t up to where I want it to be, so I’d let them race and I’ll just go home and train. I know they’re going to put me on the team. You can’t do that here. If you could, I’m sure there’d be a lot of people who’d pull out.”

Bolt, who is seeking to win the 100 and 200 meters at a third straight Olympics, said he had requested an exemption from the rest of the championships and would now attempt to prove his fitness at the London Anniversary Games on July 22.

The Rio Olympics are set to run from August 7-21.

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