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Powell for Moscow relay?

Published:Thursday | July 11, 2013 | 12:00 AM

By Hubert Lawrence

Are you worried that the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA) won't select Asafa Powell for relay duty at the World Championships in Moscow?

Fret not. Recent history suggests that Asafa will be there when the 4x100 relay starts in Moscow.

Injury hampered Tayna Lawrence intermittently after she crossed the line third in the Olympic 100m final in 2000. A great 2002 season was ushered out by aches and pains in 2003 and 2004. Nevertheless, even though Lawrence missed the 2004 National Championships, she was selected to run the 4x100 in the Athens Olympics.

The results were spectacular. Lawrence's super start keyed Jamaica's first Olympic gold medal performance in a sprint relay, with Sherone Simpson, Aleen Bailey and Veronica Campbell finishing the job.

Four years later, in 2008, Nesta Carter wasn't able to start the final of the 100m at the Nationals. Even though he bounced back with a personal best in the 200m, he didn't make the top three there. Yet the JAAA chose him as part of the relay selection pool.

In fact, everyone who reached the National 100-metre final made the trip to Beijing.

Once again, the results were spectacular. Carter's fast start, assured curve running and slick baton work jump-started a gold medal run and a world record of 37.10 seconds. Carter's fellow record breakers were Michael Frater, Usain Bolt and Powell.

After his teammates had taken the lead, Powell hit the gas hard enough to produce history's fastest anchor leg - 8.7 seconds.

Last year at the Nationals, Carter finished far enough down the 100m standings - in sixth position - to make relay selection doubtful. He was picked anyway to start in both the London Olympic heat and final.

Once again, the results were spectacular. Carter, Frater, Yohan Blake and Bolt broke Jamaica's world record and the 37-second barrier with a revolutionary run of 36.84.

History is reassuring

The history is reassuring. Breaking this trend of pragmatic relay selections isn't a good idea. Last year, in London, the USA equalled Jamaica's old world record of 37.04 and the fast half of that team, Tyson Gay and Justin Gatlin, will be in Moscow.

On the flip side, Jamaica will be without Frater following leg surgery, and Blake's struggles with injuries this year are well known. In Moscow, Bolt and Nickel Ashmeade will run both the 100m and the 200m. The final of the curved sprint is on day eight of the World Championships and the sprint relay starts - and ends - on day nine. Both will probably be rested from relay duty in the heats. So a pair of fresh, fast legs will come in handy.

If Powell is there in his bright post-Nationals form, it would be insurance. Since his Nationals disappointment, he ran 9.97 and 10.06 seconds in Ostrava and 9.88 in pursuit of American star Tyson Gay in Lausanne.

Whatever you think about his individual results, you can't dispute that he is a relay ace. In 2007, he pulled Jamaica from fifth to second at the Worlds. He high stepped that 8.7 in the Beijing Olympics and blitzed an 8.8 at the 2009 Worlds.

Since then, he has run lead-off for Jamaica in a 2010 Penn Relays win and on first leg and anchor for his MVP Club in seasons since then. His speed and experience could help the team in Moscow.

Bolt, Kemar Bailey-Cole and Ashmeade, the top three from the 100m, and National 200m champion Warren Weir are the nucleus of a fine team. Carter should find a place on the first leg again and debutantes Jason Livermore and Oshane Bailey, a 2013 Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Championships semi-finalist, can be considered too.

Maybe Frater should be there as a sprint relay consultant. His 'been-there-done-that' experience and close working relationship with the big guys on the team might come in handy.

We can't be sure if Blake will be there in high-speed form. With that in mind, based on a history of pragmatic choices, it's a safe bet that Asafa Powell will be on duty on Moscow.

Hubert Lawrence has been making notes at track side since 1980.