Bolt confronts compatriot McLeod, South Africa’s Simbine in Monaco

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(Jamaica Observer) Triple world record holder Usain Bolt will face a massive test today as he lines up in the men’s 100m at the Monaco Diamond League meeting in the principality, his final tune-up before the IAAF World Championships in London starting in just under two weeks’ time.

In his final season of competitive racing, Bolt has raced sparingly this season with just two 100m races — at the Racers Grand Prix in Kingston last month and then at the Golden Spike meeting in Ostrava. He has looked far from his fluid best in both, failing to get under the 10.00-second barrier.

After the race in Ostrava, Bolt expressed some discomfort with his back, which prompted a visit to Germany to see his long-time doctor Hans-Wilhelm Muller-Wohlfahrt, and two days ago pronounced himself ready to go.

As if to add intrigue to the race today, news broke on Wednesday that Olympic medallist Andre De Grasse of Canada was replaced in the race at the behest of Bolt, who would rather not face such a strong test.

Bolt’s camp has reportedly dismissed the claims, but he will still face a formidable test in the in-form South African speedster Akani Simbine, who has dipped under 10.00 seconds eight times already this season, with his two best times of 9.92 seconds and 9.93 seconds achieved at high altitude.

American Isiah Young and Great Britain’s Chijindu Ujah, both of whom have also ran under 10.00 seconds this season, will also line up, as well as Jamaican Olympic 110m hurdles gold medallist Omar McLeod.

In the event the men’s 100m fail to add sparkle to the meet, the men’s 400m is expected to produce fireworks with three Africans set to battle out for the podium places.

World record holder and Olympic champion Wayde Van Niekerk will face off against Babaloki Thebe and Isaac Makwala, both of Botswana, in what should be a fast race.

The other three Jamaicans participating at the meet will be Danielle Williams, who will defend her World Championships 100m hurdles title in London triple jumper Kimberly Williams and intermediate hurdler Leah Nugent.

Williams will face a loaded field that resembles a major championship line-up, including the five fastest women so far this season.

World record holder and world leader Kendra Harrison leads the way, along with compatriots Jasmin Stowers, Sharika Nelvis and Nia Ali, as well as the ever-improving Australian Sally Pearson could provide the best competition of the meet.

Kimberly Williams continues to improve after an injury layoff and will face Colombian Caterine Ibarguen, the best triple jumper in the world over the last three years, Yulimar Rojas of Venezuela and Olga Rypakova of Kazakhstan.

Nugent, a finalist in the Olympic 400m hurdles, will line up in the 400m hurdles.

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