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Sports

Bolt relaunches world championship bid at scene of Olympic glory

media Usain Bolt will face stiff competition to retain his sprint titles at next month's world championships in Beijing. Reuters/Dylan Martinez

Usain Bolt is the undisputed showman of athletics. He has the medals and the world records. But his chances of adding to his eight gold medals at world championships have been hit by a series of hip problems.

Injury-plagued Usain Bolt will resuscitate his preparations on Friday for next month's world athletics championships in Beijing.

The 28-year-old is scheduled to run in the 100 metres at the Anniversary Games at the Olympic Stadium in London, the track where he won three gold medals in 2012.

But those all-conquering days happened when the sprint star glittered in a galaxy far, far away from his rivals.

Persistent niggles have brought the Jamaican down to earth. He missed the Diamond League meetings in Paris and Lausanne earlier in July.

And he also skipped the Jamaican national championships in June.

So his appearance in the 100m will be keenly monitored by his army of fans and his fellow competitors. They'll all pose the same question: does he have what it takes to defend the 100 and 200 metres titles harvested in Moscow two years ago?

Laurent Boquillet, the director of the Paris Diamond League meeting, said: "We are not talking about a normal athlete. I am sure he can do things that nobody else can do like being ready for Beijing and winning. It will be difficult. It would be impossible for any other athlete but after what we've seen from Usain, why not."

London will be Bolt's first competitive race since winning the New York 200m on 13 June, and his first 100m since running 10.12 in Rio de Janeiro on 19 April.

Since then, seven men have gone below 9.90 at least once, including the Frenchman Jimmy Vicaut whose European record-equalling 9.86 in Paris three weeks ago makes him Bolt’s main rival in London alongside the American Mike Rodgers.

But it will be the absentees who will loom large over Bolt's eventual time. Bolt's compatriot Asafa Powell won the Paris Diamond League meet in 9.81 seconds; Justin Gatlin has posted 9.74 seconds this year and Gatlin's fellow American Tyson Gay claimed the US trials for the world championships in a dash of 9.87 seconds.

In short, over to you Usain.

Bolt's old mucker Mo Farah will also be under the spotlight on Friday night. The 32-year-old will race in the men’s 3000m. It will be his first outing in England since allegations surfaced that his coach Alberto Salazar was involved in doping.

Farah has not been accused of any wrongdoing and he has said he will continue to work with Salazar.

Bolt, who has the same agent as Farah, added: "I've come through the ranks with Mo, so I've seen all the work that he has put in.

"I'm sorry for Mo as he's in the papers every day and they are trying to tear him down. He works so hard to get where he is for someone's mistakes to be causing him problems.

"So I just hope it doesn't cause him too many problems or stress him out."

Three years ago on a hot August evening, Bolt and Farah combined to provide one of the most iconic images of the London 2012 Olympics. The mates copied each other's trademark celebration poses. Bolt, who had just anchored Jamaica to victory in the 4x100m relay, did the 'Mobot' and Farah, who had just won the 10,000 metres - the archer's pose.

Back then it was all smiles and gold. On Friday night in the same place, it will be all sweat and graft of the journey to replicate those moments of glory. 

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