LONDON (Reuters) - Usain Bolt’s suspect hip and Mo Farah’s status as the golden boy of British athletics will come under scrutiny when both return to London’s Olympic stadium this weekend.
The two-day so-called Anniversary Games, which incorporates a Diamond League meeting, features a glittering cast but six-times Olympic gold medalist Bolt is the undoubted top of the bill when he goes in the 100m on Friday.
The world record holder has looked a long way from the unbeatable sprinter who elevated track and field above the murky waters of its dope-stained past with stunning 100m/200m doubles at the Beijing and London Olympics.
This season though he is yet to dip below 10 seconds in the 100 and missed the recent Jamaican trials with a troublesome hip injury. He has not run a 100m since April in Rio.
Bolt’s fitness, and speed will be under scrutiny a month before the world championships in Beijing when American Justin Gatlin, on fire this season, will be itching to have a crack at him.
There will be no showdown in London, however, and a fit Bolt looks a strong favorite ahead of European record holder Jimmy Vicaut of France, who ran 9.86 seconds in Paris three weeks ago.
“The race tomorrow will definitely determine whether I’ll race again before Beijing. I have two 100s to make it right,” Bolt said at news conference on Thursday.
“But when I get to championships I always make sure I‘m ready! I‘m definitely excited for Beijing, maybe a bit nervous. I set the bar quite high last time I ran there.”
With twice-banned Gatlin causing a stir in the athletics world, a sharp 100m by Bolt would be a timely PR boost for a sport still mired in suspicion -- most recently allegations surrounding Alberto Salazar, coach to Britain’s 5,000m and 10,000m Olympic champion Farah.
Farah has stayed loyal to Salazar, who is being investigated by both USADA and UK Anti-Doping over allegations that he has violated doping rules and will run the 3,000m, also on Friday.
Although there is no suggestion of any wrongdoing by Farah, it has been an uncomfortable few months for the Briton who, after his extraordinary feats on the those balmy nights in London three years ago, could apparently do no wrong.
“It’s not a nice thing but at the same time, I answered everything that I can and it’s not in my control, it’s nothing to do with me,” Farah told ITV this week.
“I‘m very excited to be able to go back in that stadium and compete in front of my home crowd.”
Olympic heptathlon champion Jessica Ennis-Hill, another with golden memories of London 2012, will compete in a variety of events, beginning on Friday with the 100m hurdles which includes 2008 Olympic champion Dawn Harper-Nelson.
Kenya’s Olympic champion David Rudisha, who broke the world record en route to 800, gold in the Stadium three years ago, lines up over the same distance.
Editing by Mitch Phillips