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Ashmeade Loses out to Bolt in World Automatic Spot Decision

Jamaica’s Nickel Ashmeade, the 2012 Diamond League 200m title winner must now run at the Jamaica Trials for a spot to represent the country in the event at the World Championships in Moscow this August, even though he was given an automatic spot to the Games for earning that title and would not have to compete at Trials if he chose not to do so.

Last year, the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), track and field’s world governing body, introduced a rule that gives defending World champions and 2012 Diamond League event winners automatic entry to Moscow. On the face of this rule, one country could end up with two free spots in one event. Not quite so. The “gift” turned out to pose a dilemma for Jamaica, for if a nation has two eligible candidates, its governing body must decide which of the two should be awarded one entry.

With the Diamond League champion and the defending World champion in both the men’s 100m and 200m, Jamaica faced that problem: whom to give the nods – Nickel Ashmeade or Bolt in the 200m and Yohan Blake or Usain Bolt in the 100m.

In the case of the 200m, the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA) was forced to decide who should get it and ruled in favor of Bolt over Ashmeade, leaving the latter with a useless award to run and place among the top three at Trials.

In announcing its decision, JAAA president Warren Blake pointed out that the executive of the JAAA used the World champion status as the deciding factor. “In cases where Jamaica has both the Diamond League champions and the defending [World] champion, it is the defending champion that will get the nod,” he said.

That deciding factor was used also to solve the 100m problem.

Having false-started in the event at the 2011 World Championships in Daegu, Bolt did not get an automatic spot from Daegu to the event in Moscow but was awarded one as the Diamond League series 100m winner. Again, the JAAA had to choose one and picked Yohan Blake, the defending (Daegu) World champion. Bolt, therefore, must run in the 100m heats on Friday, June 20 to advance to the next round and final the following day.

While Blake and Bolt will have to compete in at least one event at Trials but most likely will not face each other, Ashmeade will face both men if he decides to contest the 100m as well.

Jamaica has five athletes who automatically qualified for Worlds, August 10-18.

Veronica Campbell-Brown does not have to compete in the 200m due to her status as the reigning World champion, and so does Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce who has a free place in the 100m as a result of her finishing atop in the event in last year’s Diamond League series.

It’s not yet known if both women will double at the Championships.

Kaliese Spencer, the 2012 400m hurdles Diamond League winner, is the fifth person with the option of not competing at trials; she automatically qualifies for the event in Moscow.

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