KINGSTON (Reuters) - Yohan Blake won Jamaica’s men’s 100 meters Olympic trials in 9.95 seconds on Friday after world and Olympic champion Usain Bolt pulled out minutes before the final with a hamstring injury.
Bolt handed in a medical exemption after aggravating in Friday’s semi-finals a right hamstring injury that he had sustained Thursday night.
Blake had to stave off a false start, which was wrongfully charged to him by the team of starters, who took back the red card in favor of a yellow card that was charged to the field.
Running in lane four, Blake held his nerve on the second time of asking, beating Nickel Ashmeade (9.96s) to the line by one hundreds of a second.
Newcomer Jevaughn Minzie, training partner of Bolt and Blake, ended third in a personal best 10.02secs, while former world record holder Asafa Powell was fourth in 10.03 seconds.
“God is alive. A lot of people didn’t think I’d be back but watch here, I am.” an elated Blake said.
“It has been a struggle (batting back from hamstring injuries)...I wanted to go faster but because of the tragedy that was going on at the start I couldn’t because I had to conserve and be cautious,” the 2011 world champion told Reuters.
Bolt’s withdrawal does not affect his participation in the Rio Olympics, where he is expected to defend his 100 and 200 meter titles.
Unlike the United States, where the first three finishers in the trials win Olympic berths, Jamaica’s selection policy allows medical exemptions.
Bolt had clocked 10.04 seconds to win the first semi-final after a poor start and was due to square off in the final against Blake.
Elaine Thompson stormed to women’s 100 meter final win, clocking 10.70secs to equal two-time defending Olympic champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce’s national record while punching her ticket to Rio.
Thompson was in destructive form after taking control of the final after 30 meters to win ahead of Fraser-Pryce who clocked 10.93 seconds.
Their training partner Christania Williams, 21, came third with a career best 10.97 seconds.
“It’s been a wonderful season from the start and coming to this trials to make my first Olympic team with a personal best I can’t complain as you see I‘m actually crying right now, ” Thompson told Reuters.
She also had words of encouragement for Fraser-Pryce, who has struggled with a toe injury all year.
“I know Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce wasn’t healthy and coming out year you have to be tough and she was determined and came out and book her spot to the Olympics,” the world 200m silver medalist said.
Editing by Andrew Both/Amlan Chakraborty