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Powell targets success in 2012

Published:Sunday | January 29, 2012 | 12:00 AM
Asafa Powell at a news conference in New York last Thursday. - AP

André Lowe, Senior Staff Reporter

Having to deal with repeated disappointment and public doubt concerning his mental toughness, Jamaican sprinter Asafa Powell has had to endure a lot in his chequered career; but perhaps there is still time for his reconciliation with sprinting supremacy.

It has been over three years since he has entered a major championship as a favourite and his 9.77 and 9.74 seconds 100m world-record marks have long been eclipsed by a certain Usain Bolt.

Gripped by introspective turmoil after he was forced to pull out of the IAAF World Championships in Daegu, in what many feel was a real opportunity for him to do better than his two bronze medals return at that championship over the years, and ever conscious of the ticking seconds on his career, Powell has become quite familiar with setbacks and 'could-have-beens'.

"I felt alone," Powell said of his World Championships disappointment. "You said if I was there maybe things would have been different. In the back of my head, I was thinking that as well. I was using a lot of my energy thinking about that and wishing for something that wasn't meant to be."

Time running out

Approaching his 30th birthday, the MVP Track Club athlete is certainly no 'spring chicken' and as he told Universal Sports: "My age is running about as fast as I am and from day one I wasn't planning to run until I am very old. I am approaching this one as if it will be my last Olympic Games."

However, like fine wine, the sprinter is hoping to age with intoxicating success in 2012, and if his performances in 2011 are anything to go by, then Powell will certainly have a say in how the medals are split in London later this year.

A blistering 9.78 on the European circuit last season would have threatened the world record a few years ago and his 100m Diamond League dominance along with his record 76 sub-10 seconds finishes, says that he still possesses the talent to shift the tide on his younger rivals on the right day.

But for Powell, his efforts to get back to the top of the sprinting world has taken him down a twisting road of admission and refocus. Asafa Powell version 2.0 boasts a tweaked perspective and renewed determination heading into this year's London spectacle.

"In life, if you give up very easily then you are not a champion. I want to be remembered as one of the greatest sprinters who has ever touched the track. I want to be a great champion and I am working toward it. I'm not going to give up," Powell affirmed.

A challenge to himself

However, in one's great future, the past can never be forgotten and as far as the powerful Jamaican is concerned, he was as much a challenge to himself as were Bolt and the others before and after him.

"Over the years I have been kind of lazy, thinking my talent alone can do it," Powell admitted. "This year, I am trying something new. This year I am not missing training. I am trying to attend every training session and do all of my workouts."

Such is his renewed vigour, that even agent Paul Doyle has felt the air of change.

"Asafa has come in with a new attitude, quite honestly, the best attitude we have ever seen him train with," Doyle told The Associated Press.

Powell gets 'Mission 2012' under way in an almost new environment, with an indoor campaign that is expected to take him into the IAAF World Indoor Championships in March.

Istanbul is the first objective, perhaps, this is where the sprinting star's world-beating renaissance will take new flight.