ATHLETICS: Asafa rounding into shape, but faces biggest physical and psychological test tomorrow
Jamaican speedster Asafa Powell has been burning up track all season but with the American pair of Justin Gatlin and Tyson Gay laying in wait in what should be a fiery 100m at the Diamond League meet in Lausanne, Switzerland, perhaps his first real test is yet to come.
In many ways, its also a test for Gatlin as well.
Only Gatlin – the most dominant sprinter over the past two seasons, has gone faster than Powell this season, with the duo responsible for four of the top five times posted in the event this season. Gay comes in with the sixth and seventh fastest times recorded this year with 9.87 and 9.88 under his belt.
Gatlin’s form has been extremely impressive all year – and that’s an understatement, with the American posting season bests of 9.74 (100m) and 19.57 (200m) in an unbeaten season.
In fact, the last time Gatlin lost a race was in 2013.
However, Powell has shown a lot of composure since the start of the season, winning all nine of his races so far with four of those wins coming in sub-10 seconds.
Powell seems to be rounding into shape, posting his two fastest times of the season in his last two outings and looking and sounding more confident than he has been in the past, as he looks forward to the contest.
“I’ve been confident all season and I am getting in better and better shape. As the season goes on I just want to stay confident and focused,” Powell said after his season best 9.81 win at the Paris Diamond League meet a few days ago.
However, he will be walking on to the track tomorrow knowing very well that things have not typically gone his way when facing Gatling and Gay, making this contest, the biggest test of his physical and psychological gains.
In 14 meetings against Gatlin, Powell has only won four. Additionally, he has not beaten the American since 2004, meaning that Gatlin has won his last seven races against the Jamaican.
Against, Gay, Powell has fared much better even if he still comes out on the wrong side of things.
Powell and Gay have met on 19 occasions with Gay crossing the line ahead of Powell 10 times. He has however, beaten Gay in their last two races.
“I haven’t done well against him [Gatlin] over the last few years he has been in the sport,” Powell admitted to The Gleaner. “Still you have to take into consideration that I haven’t been healthy over the past few years and nothing was really going well but now I have a chance to make amends.”
And this may indeed be his best chance.
All three will go into the contest in good form but Powell has certainly been the busiest of the trio and could be just a bit sharper when it matters.
Also Gatlin did compete in Hungary last night and had to take a short flight to Lausanne ahead of tomorrow’s big race and could be impacted by the extra travel, especially considering that Powell has been in Switzerland since Sunday.
Interestingly, Gay spent much of yesterday going through a full training programme and followed that up with a gym session with his handlers and may be loaded going into this meet.
Mike Rodgers, Keston Bledman and Kim Collins will ensure that the ‘Big Three’ here have something else to think about, but the eyes of the world will no doubt be focused on tomorrow’s test.
Women's 400m (1:03 p.m.)
Novlene Williams - Mills
Men's 200m (1:26 p.m.)
Men's 100m (2:17 p.m.)