Asafa In 100m This Week


100m return for Powell at World Athletics Tour opener
Monday 6 March 2006
Australian 100m record holder Patrick Johnson is in doubt with a cold, and so it seems that three-time national champion Joshua Ross will offer the stiffest local challenge to Jamaica’s World record holder Asafa Powell as he returns to 100m racing in the first IAAF World Athletics Tour meeting of 2006 in Melbourne, Australia, this Thursday (9 March).

Powell set the World record of 9.77sec in Athens last June and ran the three fastest times in the world for 2005, but he was injured at the Jamaican championships and missed the Helsinki World Championships. He has not competed off the blocks over 100m since the London Grand Prix in July.

But analysis of video of Powell’s 9.1sec run anchoring his club 4x100m relay team in Kingston a fortnight ago suggests he is capable now of running 9.9sec for 100m off the blocks.

If he can do that at Melbourne’s Olympic Park he will break Sydney Olympic champion and Maurice Greene’s meet record of 10.05sec, a mark Powell’s coach, Steven Francis, has already suggested may be in trouble.

"He is in great shape, better than he has ever been,’’ Francis warned.

Powell’s training partner Michael Frater, the Helsinki 100m silver medallist, said his countryman was entitled to be the favourite for the Commonwealth Games to follow in Melbourne shortly.

“We are in shape to race very fast and Asafa is in better shape than when he started running fast last year,” Frater ominously assessed.

“Yes, I’m still the fastest man on Earth,” the 23-year-old Powell said with a chuckle on arrival in Australia early last week.

“I resumed serious training since September so I’ve been training for a pretty long time.”

“The only thing I have to prove is to show that everyone knows I am better,” he said.

"I guess I have to prove that I am better and ready to run.

“Ill run the 100 and the relay (in the Telstra A-Series meeting in Melbourne). I’m a little bit anxious, its my first real competition for me since the injury, I still have a litte fear but its only a mind thing.”

Patrick Johnson won the 100m in cool, wet and adverse windy conditions in the Telstra A-Series in Brisbane last Friday, convincingly beating a well credentialed field, however he has since come down with a slight cold and has withdrawn from the Melbourne meet.

Three-time Australian title winner Joshua Ross appears to carry Australia’s hopes of a win in the 100m this week. It would certainly be another step up in a career which was mired in the backwater of handicap prize money running on the colourful but low-key Australian bush circuit at the time of the previous Commonwealth Games four years ago.

Mike Hurst (Sydney Daily Telegraph) for the IAAF