Asafa sticking with Donovan
Leighton Levy, Gleaner Writer
Following what he deemed a satisfactory but shortened season, former 100-metre world record holder Asafa Powell, the fastest Jamaican in the world this year, intends to see out the rest of his career with his brother Donovan as his coach.
Donovan, 42, who competed for St Jago High School at the Inter-Secondary Schools Sports Association Boys Championships between the mid-1980s and 1990, has been coaching his younger sibling since the latter parted company with his former coach Stephen Francis in 2013.
Under the elder Powell's guidance, Asafa, who once held the world record at 9.72, produced best times of 9.87, 9.90 and 9.95 in a season that started late because of a drug suspension that was eventually reduced by the Court of Arbitration for Sport in July.
Powell, a two-time IAAF World Championship 100-metre bronze medallist, said working with his brother has proven to be a good partnership.
"The relationship is very good. We work very closely on my overall health and fitness," Powell said of his brother, who is a youth track coach in Texas in the United States. "We know when to be brothers and when to know it's coaching time. Knowing he has my best interest at heart makes me even more motivated and yes, we will continue to work together until I end my career in athletics."
Despite the transition to a new coach, Powell said his relationship with his former coach, Stephen Francis, is just fine. Powell and former club mate Sherone Simpson left the MVP training camp following the much-publicised situation in 2013 when both athletes tested positive for a stimulant Oxilofrine at Jamaica's National Championships that summer.
Both athletes returned adverse findings for the banned stimulant which they said was contained in a tainted supplement supplied to them by Canadian fitness trainer Chris Xuereb, who had been hired by their agent Paul Doyle, reportedly without Francis' knowledge or consent. Powell said he holds no grudge against his former coach who guided him to multiple world records during their decade together.
"I respect my former coach, Mr Francis, but what's done is done. I've moved on," he said. "If I see Mr Francis, I talk to him just the same. I have no hard feelings."
Looking back at the just-concluded season, Powell, the 2006 Commonwealth Games champion, said he was satisfied with how things went given the challenges he faced.
"It was an OK season. I wasn't expecting any miracles or to break any records. It took a lot out of me to go out there physically and mentally. It's very hard to start in the middle of the season with no real preparation or lead-up races. I think it went well, all things considered," he said, adding that he and Donovan placed a lot of focus on trying to prevent injuries.
Powell, who turns 32 in November, said he was also pleased with how fans and the media responded to his return to the sport after more than a year's absence. "It's been so overwhelmingly positive," he said. "Lots of interviews, autograph sessions and overall warmth from the crowds. It was a pleasure being back on the circuit."
As for his times, how fast does he think he can go now that he is back? "That's hard to say. Time will tell," he said.