By STEVE BUFFERY -- Toronto Sun
SYDNEY -- The once-mighty Canadian men's 4x100-metre relay team is on the brink of total collapse.
Team stars Bruny Surin and Donovan Bailey may not compete in the relay event next Friday. Surin has an injured hamstring and Bailey has been floored with a viral infection.
That leaves only four runners for the relay and all but one, team veteran Glenroy Gilbert, are relative newcomers.
They also are not particularly fast.
"We'll probably know who we have available 24 hours before the event starts," team head coach Brent McFarlane said last night. "We'll talk about it after the 100 (metre final)."
Surin's agent Ray Flynn said last night that his client would run in the 100 semis, which were held early this morning, despite the intense pain of his injury.
"He felt if he could run in the quarters, why not try the semis," Flynn said. "As a former athlete myself, I understand the importance of the Olympics to him. But he is in great pain and, in fact, he needed a (painkiller) shot 45 minutes before the quarters to numb the pain."
Flynn said that he and coach Dan Pfaff advised Surin not to run in the quarters.
"But Bruny is a great champion and this being his last Olympics he wanted to run," Flynn said. "What he did was very courageous."
The Montreal native squeaked into the semis with a time of 10.20 in the quarters, but indicated that if the pain was still bad following the 100, he wouldn't go for the relay.
"If I'm not 100% and there is a risk of (a serious) injury," Surin said, "I don't want to risk (the chance) of not running next year, my last year."
MacFarlane was not optimistic that Surin would be with the team at the end of next week.
"His leg could blow up at anytime," the coach said.
"About 45 minutes before they called us (for the quarters), I talked to my daughter and she said, 'It's the Olympics, just go for it,' " Surin said, in explaining his reason for entering the quarters despite his pain.
An exhausted and weakened Bailey did not make it into the semis. He ran an 11.36 in his quarter-final heat after shutting down about 50 metres in. He said he would stick around Sydney and work out with the relay team, but was doubtful that his health and form would return in a few days.
"I told Brent that I'm committed to the team. (But) if I feel like this, and someone else is running faster, I will by no means impose myself upon them," Bailey said. "But I'm going to be at practice every day cheering those guys on."
They'll need all the cheering they can get.
Besides Gilbert, the three others available to the relay team are Toronto's Pierre Browne, Montreal newcomer Nicolas Macrozonaris and Brad McCuaig of Calgary. Only Macrozonaris has run the 100 faster than 10.20.