Donovan Bailey sick, but still hopes to run in Olympics
SYDNEY (CP) -- Defending Olympic champion Donovan Bailey, who is fighting an upper respiratory virus, practised briefly Thursday but still didn't know if he'll be able to compete in the Games' 100-metre heats.
"I'll come on the track and if I can go, I'll go," said Bailey.
"Yesterday I came out, warmed up to see how it is. Tomorrow will be the same thing. As if I am running, I don't know. I'll get up tomorrow to see if I can or not."
The 100-metre heats begin Friday with the final scheduled for Saturday night.
Coach Dan Pfaff, couldn't be any more specific on Bailey's chances.
"He goes in the tunnel at 11 a.m. (Friday). We'll see where it goes from there," he said.
But Pfaff called Bailey's current condition "a shell of what we are used to seeing."
Bailey looked tired and sounded awful. Sweat poured down a face made puffy by sickness and his voice sounded like it came from the bottom of a garbage can.
Even though it was a hot day, Bailey walked onto the track swaddled in a warmup suit and wearing headphones. After a long session of being twisted like a pretzel by his chiropractor, he ran some short 30-metre sprints.
At one point he walked off the track and stood hunched over, hands on his knees, fighting for air.
"I'm breathing very well for 20 metres," he said later.
"That's a pretty bad situation when I have 80 more to go at the Olympic Games. The timing is pretty rough. I have less than 24 hours, after a few days of being in bed. That's not really good preparation."
Asked if he could have run if the race was Thursday, Bailey shook his head no.
Bailey first felt symptoms of the illness Sunday night while the track team was still practising at the Gold Coast. He started getting stuffy and felt shivers, but thought believed it was just a cold.
Mark Lindsay, part of the Canadian medical team, sounded more optimistic.
"Mechanically everything looks good, the Achilles look good and the old hamstring -- he had a little tear earlier on in the year, everything looks good right now," he told CBC.
But he acknowledged that Bailey was still very congested.
"The biggest concern right now is he's having a hard time breathing. It's just the energy output and the breathing that we're a little bit concerned about."
Bailey underwent acupuncture Thursday in a bid to clear his sinuses. The process involves inserting a needle into the sinuses and running a small electric high frequency current through it.
"I just kept thinking there's going to be a big wind gust and I'm going to blow all the mucus out of my lungs tomorrow," he said.
Bailey's recovery has been hampered by the fact that he cannot take anything to fight the virus because many decongestants and other medications are classified as stimulants and are on the International Olympic Committee's banned drug list.
Bailey spent two days earlier this week in bed with IVs attached to his arms.
The Oakville, Ont., sprinter won the gold medal in Atlanta in a world-record time of 9.84. That time has since been lowered to 9.79 seconds by American Maurice Greene, who is favoured to win Saturday's race.
Bailey's career looked to be over after rupturing his Achilles' tendon while playing basketball two years ago. He also hurt his hamstring at a meet in Stockholm this summer, and his fastest time this year in 9.98 seconds.
"I'm glad to be here," said Bailey, who stopped to sign autographs for some people waiting at the track.
"I'm glad I came back from that Achilles injury to be at the Olympic Games, which was my ultimate goal was. I trained all year because I wanted to be here to compete. It (being sick) is a tad frustrating but it's part of what we do We're always susceptible to injuries or sickness because our bodies are so fragile. Any little thing can go wrong."