Powell approaching Olympics like his last


Asafa Powell, a world-class sprinter who has achieved a lot but has failed to deliver so much more on the world and Olympic stage, has vowed to approach this summer’s London Games like his last. A gold medal showing in the British capital would be a fine accolade for the 29-year-old Jamaican, a former world record-holder whose career has been overshadowed by countryman Usain Bolt, with yet another Jamaican, Yohan Blake, rising to prominence last year and gaining the No 1 world ranking over 100m.
“It’s not my last shot (at Olympic gold), but I’ll be approaching it as if it’s my last,” said Powell, a sculpted 1.90m (6ft 3in) figure of a man who has a personal best of 9.72sec set in Lausanne in 2008, the fourth fastest time in the history of the event. “I’ll be going all out. But I’m only 29, so I have a few more years in me.” An Olympic gold medal winner as part of Jamaica’s 4x100m relay team in Beijing in 2008, Powell also won relay gold in the 2009 Berlin worlds and silver in 2007.
For a sprinter who held the 100m world record between June 2005 and May 2008, with times of 9.77 and 9.74sec respectively and who has consistently broken the 10-second barrier in competition (around 74 times), Powell’s individual medal haul of two world bronzes could be described as disappointing. Powell raced the 100m at the 2004 Athens Olympics and in Beijing but finished fifth on both occasions, after failing to overcome pre-race nerves and fully convert his obvious on-track abilities into podium showings. He was quick to play down any run-off against American 2004 Olympic champion Justin Gatlin at Friday’s Diamond League opener at Qatar Sports Club.
“I’m not focused on anybody else,” Powell insisted. “I’m focused on my own technique and finishing my race healthy. “Bolt’s always there, he’s the man to beat, but in the back of my head out there, I’m trying to focus on myself.” Having dipped under 9.80sec on no less than eight occasions and under 9.90sec more than 30 times, Powell bettered his own world record in Doha in 2006 but the chances of that re-occurring here on Friday are highly unlikely, especially given his most recent injury concern.
Powell, coached since 2001 by Stephen Francis as part of the MVP Track and Field Club based at the University of Technology (U-Tech) in Jamaica, was meant to run the 200m at last week’s Kingston Invitational meet, only to pull out at the last minute.
“I’m feeling good now,” he stressed Thursday. “The main reason I didn’t run was the concern over my groin running off the curve. I made the right decision not to run so I could compete here.” Powell added: “This year is the Olympic Games. You have to be very prepared. Friday’s race is pretty much my first race, so I’m preparing myself for the bigger event to come.”
All eyes on London as Doha hosts first Diamond League: The outdoor athletics season gets under way proper on Friday when the Qatar Sports Club hosts the first leg of the prestigious 14-meet Diamond League, with all eyes on this summer’s Olympic Games in London.
Jamaican sprint star Usain Bolt will be absent, however, having preferred to make his season debut on home soil last weekend (with a world lead of 9.82sec over the 100m) and European bow in Ostrava, Czech Republic, later this month.
But a top-quality field has nevertheless been assembled for the kick-off of the global circuit that also sees events held in Shanghai, Rome, Eugene (USA), Oslo, New York, Paris, London and Monaco before the London Olympics.