July 02, 2016

KINGSTON, Jamaica (AP) Kenia Sinclair mistimed her move in the Olympic final of the 800-meter run at the Beijing Olympics eight years ago, quite possibly costing her a medal. And a bad knee kept her from even stepping onto the track at the London Games in 2012.

So here's the early 36th birthday present she gave herself: A return trip to the Olympics.

Fighting through a bad hamstring, Sinclair finished second in the women's 800 final at the Jamaican Senior National Championships - the Caribbean nation's version of the Olympic trials - inside National Stadium on Saturday night. That was good enough to earn her a trip to Rio next month for her sport's showcase meet.

''For me, age is just a number,'' said Sinclair, who turns 36 on July 14. ''I'm 36 years old, but I feel like I did when I just started. I'm not tired. I'm well-rested because I've always been battling with injuries. But I came out here today and my main goal was just to make this Olympic team. It's been a hard three weeks with this hamstring, but I didn't want any excuse.''

Hamstrings have been the bane of this meet.

A bad left hamstring knocked Usain Bolt out of these championships on Friday night, putting his status for the 100- and 200-meter dashes and the 4x100-meter relay at the Rio Games in some doubt. Bolt wasted no time starting to get treatment on the mild tear, tweeting out a photo of his leg getting worked on not long after he withdrew from the meet.

This weekend's meet in theory decides the Olympic team, though Jamaican rules (unlike ones in the U.S.) allow for some flexibility at the trials through medical exemptions. Bolt plans to show if he's fit enough to return to the Olympics - and try for a third straight gold in the 100 - at a meet in London on July 22.

So without the biggest show in the sport, the men's 200 went on Saturday, as did the women's 200.

There were no real surprises, as the biggest remaining names such as Yohan Blake, Nickel Ashmeade, Elaine Thompson, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Veronica Campbell-Brown all advanced to the finals that will cap the meet on Sunday night. Campbell-Brown is a two-time Olympic 200 champion, though she failed to qualify for the 100 at the Rio Games by finishing fourth in her national final on Friday.

But if the meet needed a feel-good story, Sinclair had one to offer.

She's dealt with back issues and the aftereffects of a car crash that made them worse for several years, then had the hamstring issue pop up less than a month ago.

''Today, I told myself this was going to prove how bad you want to be on the team,'' Sinclair said. ''When I got on the line, I didn't think about it. I ran through pain and I'm happy with the result.''

Sinclair finished in 2 minutes, 1.11 seconds - just ahead of the Olympic standard, though that was irrelevant since she'd beat that earlier this season anyway. All she had to do Saturday was finish in the top three to qualify.

Nataya Goule won the race in 2:00.23, after a pre-race chat with Sinclair.

''We wished each other well, good luck,'' Goule said. ''We're friends. Even though we raced against each other, we're friends. That's how we do it.''

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