Michael Phelps will hope for an early return to the swimming pool to start his preparations for the World Championships after pulling out of the 100m freestyle at US Nationals in Indianapolis with a sore neck. Phelps, winner of a record eight gold medals at the Beijing Olympics, woke up with a stiff neck on Thursday morning, but ignored the pain to set a world record in the 100m butterfly later that evening.
The stiffness, however, grew worse overnight and doctors advised the 24-year-old not to swim the 100m free. "I could barely move my neck to breathe," he said. "We decided it was probably better we not risk anything for the next two weeks and take the precautionary route." His withdrawal means Phelps will race in just three individual events, 100m and 200m butterfly and the 200m free, and three relays at the World Championships in Rome that start on July 26. The injury, however, is not expected to have any major affect on the 14-time Olympic gold medallist's training schedule.
In athletics, American sprinter Tyson Gay sent out a warning to Olympic 100m champion and world record holder Usain Bolt ahead of next month's World Championship with a brilliant run at the IAAF Golden League in Rome, clocking 9.77secs to equal his US record. Gay, whose Beijing gold medal hopes were wrecked by injury, overshadowed Jamaican Asafa Powell (9.88) and Yohan Blake (9.96) to post the fastest time in the world this year.
There was glory for the Middle East too in Rome when Bahrain's Maryam Yussuf Jamal scored a runaway win in the 1500m with the fastest time this summer of 3min 56.55sec. Meanwhile, the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) have decided to reduce the number of sporting disciplines at the quadrennial Asian Games from 42 to 35 at the 2014 event in South Korea. Randhir Singh, general-secretary of the OCA, said yesterday the council decided to trim the event because "the Asian Games had grown too big".