Wed | Oct 18, 2017

Asafa as fast as ever, says Hubert Lawrence

Published:Thursday | May 14, 2015 | 12:00 AMHubert Lawrence
Asafa Powell powering to victory in the men's 100m in a world-leading 9.84 seconds at the Jamaica International Invitational meet at the National Stadium on Saturday.

In 2005, Asafa Powell settled into the blocks at the Jamaica Invitational for the start of the 100 metres. When the starter's pistol fired, the Orangefield Express burst from the blocks and ran smoothly to victory in 9.85 seconds.

Ten years later, on Saturday night, a similar performance brought Powell home first in 9.84 seconds.

Ten years ago, that 9.85 was the first step in a successful world record chase. In fact, Powell has been so good for so long that he has run faster than that on 15 occasions.

The hope is that Saturday's 9.84 will be the start of not one, but two great seasons for the 32-year-old double World Championship 100-metre bronze medal winner.

That would carry him through the World Championships in Beijing this year to next year's Olympics in Rio.

After last Saturday's race, the 2006 Commonwealth champion answered familiar questions before they were asked. His focus, he revealed, is doing well in big championship meets and staying relaxed enough to get the best out of himself. Looking slimmer than the 192 pounds he raced at last year, Powell had the sound of a man renewed.

He will reach Rio, host of the Olympics next year, a few months short of his 34th birthday. He'll be in good company. The incomparable Usain Bolt will be almost 30 by then and the formidable American Justin Gatlin will also be 34.

In 1994, at age 34, Linford Christie of Britain unified the Olympic, World, European and Commonwealth 100-metre titles. The last jewel in the British sprint king's crown was won at the Commonwealth Games in 9.91 seconds.

 

good chance

 

Powell's return will allay fears born out of the sound defeat of Jamaica 4x100m men's team by the United States of America (USA) at the recent International Association of Athletics Associations (IAAF) World Relays. So will the form of Nesta Carter, who ran a seasonal best of 9.98 seconds on Saturday, and two-time Inter-collegiate champion, Andrew Fisher, who lowered his personal best to 10.01 in the same race.

The Americans are very good, but a Jamaican squad including the incomparable Usain Bolt, Powell and super starter Carter stands a good chance.

Powell has great relay credentials, with his memorable 8.70 anchor closing a world record run at the 2008 Olympics. Yet, at this stage of his career, it is individual honours that matter most. Like compatriot Raymond Stewart, he has run in three Olympic finals. Like Raymond, he has no individual Olympic medal to show for his trailblazing career.

Hopefully, at his fourth Olympic Games, he will stand on the podium. If he can stay healthy, there's no reason why he can't do it.

- Hubert Lawrence has watched all three of Powell's Jamaica Invitational100-metre victories.