'99 per cent sure of gold'
Former world record holder Asafa Powell says he is 99 per cent sure of claiming the gold medal in the men's 100m final at the Daegu World Championships next week.
A big part the sprinter's belief obviously stems from his stellar form this season, put into perspective by his world leading season best of 9.78, but Powell is also boosted by the fact that he and other athletes no longer seem to think that Usain Bolt, his compatriot and current world record holder, is invincible.
"I don't think any of the athletes think that," Powell told British newspaper The Independent (www.independent.co.uk).
"Everybody wants that gold medal. This year is totally different to 2008 and 2009. This year everyone is thinking about crossing the finish line first. I'm not going out thinking: 'Oh, Usain is here, so he should win and make all the people happy.' I'm going out thinking about crossing the finish line first."
Bolt, who dismissed the Olympic 100m field with almost disdain in 2008, before lowering his world record of 9.69 to 9.58 in Berlin at the World Championships, has looked anything but his best this season. The reigning World Champion has a season best of 9.88, unimpressive by his lofty standards, and despite winning all his 100m encounters so far this season has not looked convincing in doing so. In fact in his season opener in Rome, Bolt had to come a long way back before he eventually caught and passed Powell only a few metres from the line. Ironically despite the loss it is that result which gives Powell added confidence heading into the Daegu showdown.
"I should have beaten Usain in Rome. I gave that race away. That's why I know I can beat him this year. I think I have a great chance, a 99 per cent chance of winning."
Powell, however, admits that in a sense he is sympathetic towards the reigning World Champions constantly judged by his own surreal standards.
"You can't expect a world record every time on the track," Powell said. "It's really ridiculous. You can't run 9.58 every time, or 9.6 even.
"It's very hard to say if there's going to be another 9.58. I can't tell the future. That was a perfect race for Usain. He got the best start. He was way in front from the get-go. There was nothing to be corrected. Will he ever do it again? I honestly have no idea."