Ethiopian running legend Haile Gebrselassie and reigning Olympic decathlon champion Bryan Clay headline a raft of athletes who will miss out on the London Games.
Gebrselassie, a two-time Olympic and four-time world 10,000m champion, failed to progress from an Ethiopian qualifying trial in Hengelo in May. To add to his woes, the 39-year-old had already also failed to post a qualifying time for the marathon in what would have been his fifth Olympics.
Clay came a cropper in the US national trials, in which rival Ashton Eaton set a new world record in the decathlon of 9,039 points. The decathlete was not the only one not to make it into the US team bound for London from the notoriously tough trials. Two-time Olympic shot put runner-up and former world champion Adam Nelson failed in his bid, while sprinter Walter Dix scratched from his 200m qualifying heat after suffering a left leg injury in the 100m semi-finals.
The absence of Dix, third in the 100 and 200m at the 2008 Olympics and second in both events at last year’s world championships, means the US team for the 200m will be without three of their best sprinters, Tyson Gay and Justin Gatlin having opted to compete solely in the 100m.
Nelson, the 2000 and 2004 Olympic silver medalist and 2005 world champion, had an absolute shocker at the trials in Eugene, fouling on his first two attempts and ultimately finishing in 15th place with his third qualifying effort.
“I hadn’t planned on having my retirement or making my last big throws of the year today,” said Nelson. “I just wanted to wish the guys good luck and get off the field.”
Tough national championships aside, a host of other athletes will be missing because of injury problems and bans incurred because of doping offences. France will be without sure medal hope Teddy Tamgho, the world indoor triple jump champion and world record holder having failed to recover from an operation on an injured ankle.
“I asked myself what the right thing to do would be, between trying to force it and show that I could do well, but risk handicapping myself for next season, or stopping and preparing correctly,” said Tamgho. “I made my choice quickly. My objective is to be one step ahead for next season.”
He will be joined on the sidelines by Bob Tahri, the European 3000m steeplechase record holder and 2009 world bronze medallist, who failed to recover from an operation on his left tibia.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 15th, 2012.