Pickering out of London 2012 contention

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CITY sprinter Craig Pickering will miss out on this summer’s Olympic Games after undergoing surgery on a long-term back problem.

The Loughborough-based athlete, who ran the anchor leg in the 4x100 metres relay final at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, has not run since January and has been ruled out for the entire season.

“I had to have an operation in March to remove some disc fragments in my back which were pressing on my nerves,” he said. “They removed 8cm worth of disc, which is a lot, so because of that I can’t race for the whole year.

“It’s a sickener but I’ve basically known since January that I wasn’t going to make the season, so at least I’ve had time to come to terms with it. It’s not as if it’s happened on the eve of the Olympics, which would be much worse.

“I knew I really needed to have the operation because I was in a lot of pain all the time, so it wasn’t a hard decision to make in terms of my quality of life.”

With Pickering out of contention, the battle for a coveted 4x100m spot in London will hot up when the returning Dwain Chambers lines up in a GB relay team for the first time in six years at the Rome Golden Gala on May 31.

Five sprinters will travel to Rome before the final quartet is chosen, though Chambers looks certain to feature as the fastest man in Britain over the last three years. The others are Mark Lewis-Francis, Harry Aikines-Aryeetey, James Ellington and Richard Kilty.