By Kayon Raynor
KINGSTON (Reuters) - Olympic and double world sprint relay gold medallist Asafa Powell has withdrawn from Jamaica's team for this weekend's third IAAF World Relays event in the Bahamas.
The team's technical leader, Maurice Wilson, confirmed to Reuters by phone on Thursday that Powell -- twice world 100m bronze medallist -- was among three athletes to pull out of the team currently heading for the Bahamas.
“I’ve been informed that Asafa Powell is not available; Julian Forte is also not available; Rusheen McDonald is also out. Those are experienced athletes that would make a big difference to the composition of the team,” Wilson said.
Powell’s absence is a huge blow to the Jamaican team, who are already without eight-time Olympic gold medallist Usain Bolt, who did not make himself available.
Powell’s publicist, Tara Playfair-Scott, told Reuters on Thursday that the 34-year-old's decision to withdraw was strategic.
“He’s training. We're just being very selective in what he runs, because he has Doha (Diamond League meet) next week,” she said.
“To do World Relays and Doha, to come back to do all of the other stuff ... we want to do as limited amount (of races) as possible and just focus on the bigger ones,” Playfair-Scott added.
Wilson also revealed that two of Jamaica's top female competitors might be competing in only one relay each.
“I’ve not had any final discussion with the coach (Stephen Francis), but I was advised that (Olympic sprint double gold medallist) Elaine Thompson would only be available for the 4x200 and Shericka Jackson (Olympic and World Championship 400m bronze medallist) for the 4x200 as well,” Wilson added.
Despite the withdrawals, Wilson is confident the Jamaica team will do well in the Bahamas.
REVISED JAMAICAN TEAM FOR IAAF/BTC WORLD RELAYS BAHAMAS
2017Men4x100m: Kemar Bailey-Cole, Yohan Blake, Everton Clarke, Jevaughn Minzie4x200m: Nickel Ashmeade, Oshane Bailey, Rasheed Dwyer, Nigel Ellis, Chadic Hinds, Warren Weir4x400m: Javere Bell, Javon Francis, Demish Gaye, Steven Gayle, Peter MatthewsWomen4x100m: Gayon Evans, Simone Facey, Sashalee Forbes, Natasha Morrison, Christania Williams4x200m: Samantha Henry-Robinson, Anastacia Le-Roy, Jura Levy, Dawnalee Loney, Audra Segree, Elaine Thompson4x400m: Verone Chambers, Christine Day, Shericka Jackson, Anneisha McLaughlin-Whilby, Stephenie Ann McPherson, Janieve RussellMixed 4x400m: Natoya Goule, Jaheel Hyde, Tiffany James, Martin Manley, Jamari Rose, Ristananna Tracey
(Writing by Kayon Raynor,; Editing by Neville Dalton)