Asafa, teammates leave for Belgrade meet
. Coach says Powell’s fitness the focus
KAYON RAYNOR, Senior staff reporter
Friday, May 25, 2007
Asafa Powell goes through his paces at a practice session at the Stadium East field on Wednesday morning. (below): Powell’s new two colour custom-built yellow and black Nike spikes. According to Powell’s agent Paul Doyle, Sport Wear company Nike has been making custom built spikes for Powell since 2004. (Photos: Bryan Cummings)
MVP Track Club’s head coach Stephen Francis is not expecting anything in particular from world record-holder Asafa Powell in his first 100-metre race next Tuesday in Belgrade, Serbia, except to see him finish the race healthy.
Sidelined by tendonitis in the knee for approximately three weeks in April, the 2006 IAAF Male Athlete of the Year has seen his 2007 outdoor debut postponed on three previous occasions. He missed the Mt Sac Relays on April 15, the Penn Relays on April 28 and the May 5 Jamaica International Invitational Meet.
However, 15 days ago, MVP’s agent representative Paul Doyle confirmed that Powell - the 2006 Commonwealth Games champion - was fully recovered and would run his first competitive 100 metres at the second AthleticsBet meet on May 29 in Belgrade.
“It’s basically to see what he’s like competitively,” Francis told the Observer in an exclusive interview on Wednesday.
“He (Asafa), I’m sure, is looking forward to it because he has not competed in quite a little while over the 100 metres. I mean, there is no great expectation for anything, just that he hopefully be healthy coming out of the race and that he’ll execute well,” the veteran coach added.
Powell, along with MVP teammates Michael Frater, Mario Forsytte, Germaine Mason and Shericka Williams, are scheduled to leave the island tomorrow enroute to Belgrade, Serbia.
The 24-year-old Powell, who registered a record 12 sub-10 seconds clocking last season, has not run a competitive 100 metres since September 2006 when he clocked 9.89secs to win the 4th IAAF World Athletics Final in Stuttgart, Germany.
According to the IAAF outdoor performance list for 2007, the fastest legal time of 9.98secs belongs to Bahamian Derrick Atkins. However, American Tyson Gay, who was Powell’s main rival in 2006 following Justin Gatlin’s positive dope test, registered a brisk 9.79secs with a powerful tail wind of +2.5 m/s. The allowable wind permitted under IAAF rules is +2.0 m/s.
“I don’t know what kind of times we’ll have in Belgrade, because I don’t know what the weather is going to be like. I don’t know what the effect of the (airplane) flying is going to be, we just hope to just come out with a sound, reasonable race,” Francis responded when quizzed about the possible time Powell is capable of running, based on how his training has been progressing since his return from injury.
Powell’s training partners Darrel Brown of Trinidad & Tobago and Jamaican Michael Frater posted respectable opening season times at the Jamaica International Invitational, clocking 10.02secs and 10.13secs, respectively - the second and 15th fastest times this season.
According to Observer sources, based on how technically sound and smooth Powell looked in training this week at the Stadium East field, it is anticipated that the fastest man in history will register an impressive time in Belgrade.
Doyle told the Observer that Powell’s next race will be over 200 metres at the Prefontaine Classic on June 10 in Eugene, Oregon, before he suits-up for this season’s first Golden League meet - the Exxon Mobil Bislett Games in Oslo, Norway - on June 15.
In the meantime, Francis expects world No 1 female sprinter Simpson to bounce back strongly after losing her first race this season - a 200-metre contest to Rachelle Smith of the USA at the Jamaica International Invitational.
“I expect that she’s going to run extremely well from here on… she usually starts her season relatively slowly and I think she’s going to do well. and you can expect quite a few PRs from her over both distances this season,” Francis said.
Simpson’s career best time in the 100-metre is 10.82secs, which ranks her second behind Merlene Ottey (10.74) on Jamaica’s list of fastest females, while her PB of 22.00secs is fourth behind Ottey (21.64), Grace Jackson (21.72) and Juliet Cuthbert (21.75).