Powell hailed as role model for the young
GARFIELD MYERS, Sports editor Jamaica’s The Observer
Thursday, June 16, 2005
New world record-holder over 100 metres Asafa Powell (centre), hugs mother Cislin while father William looks on upon arrival at the Norman Manley International Airport yesterday. (Photo: Joseph Wellington)
His enormous potential as a role model for misguided youth in a troubled nation took pride of place, as new world record-holder over 100 metres, Asafa Powell, received a hero’s welcome at the Norman Manley International Airport in Kingston yesterday.
Against the backdrop of sport being “the most powerful, unifying force in the world”, an emotional Minister of Sports Portia Simpson Miller exhorted criminals to discard the gun and their destructive ways and follow the footsteps of young Jamaican heroes such as Powell.
She urged criminals and anti-social types to "reflect that there is a different way and that there is another way. Asafa took to the track and proved… in a very positive way that he is the fastest man alive in the world.
" He didn’t do it by moving around with a gun to destroy other lives… Can’t you now look at this son of Jamaica, our son, your brother, stop the killings… can’t you see that there is a different way and a better way … that you can catch the attention of the world by doing something that is positive, you can catch the attention of the world and you can become number one…"
Simpson MIller. wants partnership for scholarships
The 22 year-old Powell became the first Jamaican to break the 100-metre world record when he clocked 9.77 seconds during an international Grand Prix athletic meet at the Olympic Stadium in Athens, Greece, on Tuesday, bettering the 9.78 set by American Tim Mongomery in Paris in September, 2002.
The venue was the scene of Powell’s disappointing run in the Olympic final last year, when he crossed the line fifth, in 9.94 seconds having been heavily favoured to take Gold.
Asafa’s father, William Powell, his mother, Cislin Powell, brother Nigel, and infant niece, Vanica as well government minister and St Catherine member of parliament Bobby Pickersgill; other members of the political directorate, executive members of the Jamaica Amateur Athletic Association (JAAA); Olympians, a large contingent from the University of Technology - where Powell is a student - led by president Dr Rae Davis and members of the MVP Track Club of which he is a member were on hand to greet the world record-holder.
They crowded the tarmac, pushing towards the side of the plane as a relaxed, smiling Powell disembarked. They moved in closer a few beating pot-covers before rain drops - the precursor to a very heavy shower sent everyone scurrying for the Hospitality Room at the airport.
Simpson MIller’s sentiments found favour with other speakers including Pickersgill, Davis, Opposition spokesman on youth James Robertson and young Senator Kern Spencer during the televised ceremony which followed the plane-side welcome.
Speaker after speaker also pointed to the significance of Powell’s achievement in the context that he is gome grown and trained. They heaped praise on his coach Stephen Francis, who - like his other succesful athletes at the Athens meet, Sherone Simpson, Brigitte Foster and Michael Frater - arrived on the same flight with Powell.
Simpson Miller also urged the private sector to be partners “with the government and the universities (in offering scholarships) to our sports men and women so that they will remain here, receive their training here and achieve here…”
Powell thanked God, his family and the UTech community for guiding him.
"I always say I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me and he has been strengthening me over these years…
"My parents have been praying for me and the prayers have worked and I think there is a lot more to go… " he said to loud cheers.
In response to a suggestion from a member of the audience that he could run 9.64, a chuckling Powell said: “I don’t know if I can run that, but my coach probably sees something else in me and we will work towards it…”