Asafa Home To Hero's Welcome -16June05-

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…”

NEW WORLD 100-metre record holder Asafa Powell was showered with praise yesterday after his scintillating performance in Greece.

Powell raced to a world record yesterday at the Athens Super Grand Prix by running 9.77 seconds to erase American Tim Montgomery’s three-year-old mark of 9.78.

Acting Prime Minister, Peter Phillips, the Minister of National Security, said it was with great national pride and joy that he commend Powell’s run on behalf of the government and people of Jamaica.


Phillips said Prime Minister P.J. Patterson, who is in Doha, Qatar, had asked him to express his personal tribute to this outstanding national son.

“Asafa’s record-breaking run is eloquent testimony of Jamaica’s profound impact on the inter-national stage and our possibilities as a nation in the modern world,” Phillips said in a statement.

“We all wish for Asafa even greater victories as his career unfolds.”

Portia Simpson Miller, Minister of Local Government Community Development and Sports, said: “He (Asafa) is truly the fastest man alive, and his world record is well deserved”.

The minister said Powell had shown signs of a world-record time from May.

“Those of us who were privileged to see him clock 9.84 seconds at the second Jamaica Invitational Meet early this year (May 7) knew that it was only a matter of time before he shattered the then world record,” Simpson Miller said.

She also acknowledged the excellent performances of the other Jamaican athletes who participated at yesterday’s meet.


Deputy Leader and Opposition Spokesperson for Youth, Comm-unity Development and Sports, James Robertson, also praised Powell’s run.

“I was awestruck with Asafa Powell’s electrifying record-breaking performance in the 100m in Athens, Greece. A hair-splitting 9.77 seconds goes to illustrate the superb talent of this fine Jamaican athlete. His spectacular perform-ance has again brought Jamaica to the fore in its continuous achievements in track and field events,” Robertson said.

“Kudos to Asafa and his exceptional coaching team,” he said.

Jamaica Amateur Athletics Association (JAAA) president Howard Aris said it was a welcome gift for Jamaica athletics.

Apart from saying, "we have very little to do with Powell’s performance, if anything at all, he said every Jamaican should be happy.

“The important thing is that he must be congratulated and his coach Stephen Francis for an outstanding performance. It really speaks of the capacity of Jamaicans to do whatever we want to do once we put our minds to it,” Aris said.

Aris also spoke of the positives from Powell’s run, especially as a local-based athlete.

“It will encourage more coaches to go into coaching at the senior level and when that happens, it will also encourage more athletes to remain here in Jamaica,” he said.

The JAAA president said he now hoped corporate Jamaica would come on board and support athletics

Meanwhile, Asafa’s father, William Powell, was overjoyed with his son’s record run.

“I am just rejoicing right now while saying dat di little man (Asafa) from di little country break di world record,” he said.

"I’m feeling good man … the family are rejoicing, we got a call from Texas from his brother and my wife is just here moving up and down in the place, and I myself is just walking up and down and giving thanks, because we remembered him as a little small boy.

“I am proud of him,” Powell Snr said.

As for the athlete himself, Powell said he would not put any extra pressure on himself at this year’s World Championships after claiming the record.

“I have the World Championships on my mind. I have the gold medal on my mind. Last year I made a mistake and made the pressure get to me … I won’t be making the same mistake this year,” Powell told The Gleaner yesterday.

The world fastest man will arrive in the island this afternoon at 5:00.

“I am looking forward to coming back home,” said Powell, who will then begin preparations for the National Championships which start next Friday.


Time: Name (Nationality) ­ date

10.6 seconds: D. Lippincott (U.S.) ­ 6/7/12

10.4: C. Paddock (U.S.) ­ 23/4/21

10.3: P. Williams (Canada) ­ 9/8/30

10.2: J. Owens (U.S.) ­ 20/6/36

10.1: W. Williams (U.S.) ­ 3/8/56

10.0: A. Hary (West Germany) ­ 21/6/60

9.95: J. Hines (U.S.) ­ 14/10/68

9.93: C. Smith (U.S.) ­ 3/7/83

9.92: C. Lewis (U.S.) ­ 24/9/88

9.90: L. Burrell (U.S.) ­ 14/6/91

9.86: C. Lewis (U.S.) ­ 25/8/91

9.85: L. Burrell (U.S.) ­ 6/7/94

9.84: D. Bailey (Canada) ­ 27/7/96

9.79: M. Greene (U.S.) ­ 16/6/99

9.78: T. Montgomery (U.S.) ­ 14/9/02

9.77: A. Powell (Jamaica) ­ 14/6/05

ATHENS, June 14 - Asafa Powell’s favourite tune is the gospel song Lord Walk Beside Me but tonight it should have been Christopher Cross’s Run Like The Wind.
The 22-year-old Jamaican son of a preacher clocked 9.77 seconds to break the 100m world record on the Athens Olympic track.
Powell had always threatened to erase the mark of 9.78 set by American Tim Montgomery in Paris in 2002.
Ironically Powell set his mark on a track where he had suffered perhaps the greatest disappointment of his young career when, highly favoured in an open 100m Olympic final last year, he failed to step up to the plate and finished fifth.
To compound his misery he dropped out of the 200m but tonight’s performance now consigns that experience to history.
However, it could all have been very different had he taken his brother Donovan’s advice and not become a sprinter.
Asafa travelled to Texas to train with his elder brother - a 100m semi-finalist in the 1999 world championships - but after several sessions Donovan advised him to do something else.
Instead he remained determined to carry on pursuing his dream and linked up with Jamaican coach Stephen Francis, who showed him videos of the then leading West Indian athlete Ato Boldon, the 1997 world champion at 200m and a four-time Olympic medallist.
However, it was to be Boldon’s stablemate Maurice Greene that was to serve as Powell’s role model with the ‘Kansas City Comet’ a proven winner with three world titles, the Olympic crown and the world record set in 1999 on the same track as Powell.
The Sydney Olympics were really the first ones I followed,'' admitted Powell. I wanted to be like him (Greene). He was a big influence in why I worked hard to be a good sprinter.’’
Powell indicated that he would be a real threat to the established stars when prior to the Olympics last year he ran under 10 seconds four times including setting the national record of 9.91.
While the Games themselves proved a disappointment, it was clear from the outset that he wasn’t setting the barrier very high.
I know time is on my side and I can improve a lot more,'' he said. Aided by enormous self-belief given his rejection of his brother's advice he is also helped by his father's calling. My father’s faith inspires me a lot,’’ he said.
On Tuesday, he had plenty of faith in himself as he firmly placed Montgomery’s mark in the past and with the likes of the other young guns such as Justin Gatlin and Trinidad’s Darrel Brown plotted a golden future.