Powell And Gatlin Set For Clash
Wed 22 Jun, 1:09 PM
Asafa Powell, the world’s fastest man, is heading for an exciting match-up with Olympic 100 metres champion Justin Gatlin in London next month.
Powell, who broke the world 100m record last week, is bidding to repeat his success at last year’s Norwich Union London Grand Prix and event organisers have revealed they hope Gatlin is set to join him.
The current form of both superstars and the fact the recently relaid Crystal Palace track is extremely quick suggest Powell’s record of 9.77 seconds could be threatened on July 22.
Director Ian Stewart said: "The Norwich Union London Grand Prix has a reputation of delivering must-see races and I am confident that the men’s 100m will feature most of the leading stars.
“It will be the best sprint race in the world so far this year.”
World champion Kim Collins, Olympic bronze medallist Maurice Greene and top Britons Mark Lewis-Francis and Jason Gardener are already confirmed starters.
Talks are continuing with several other star names including Olympic champion Gatlin.
But it is Powell who will be the big attraction and the Jamaican believes he can lower the mark even further.
“I know I have the ability to lower the 100 metres world record even further,” said Powell, who not surprisingly received a hero’s welcome on his return home.
He added: "Last year at the Norwich Union London Grand Prix I ran 9.91secs and if the conditions are right, I can clearly go faster.
“The meeting is always high quality and the showdown with Maurice Greene, Kim Collins and the leading British athletes should be amazing so close to the World Championships.”
Getting Powell to run is a coup for Stewart and the London organisers, as the Caribbean star is restricting his racing schedule before bidding for the World Championships title in August.
Last year Powell, with five pre-Olympic wins under his belt, was favourite to win the 100m gold medal but - for the first and only time last summer - was beaten and finished a highly disappointed fifth.
Now the sprinter’s camp are aiming to get him into top condition to win the world 100m title in Helsinki having strongly hinted the new world record-holder is limiting his season’s schedule.
It is understood Powell will only appear at the IAAF Golden League meeting in Rome on July 8 and then London in his build-up to the World Championships.
That means it is highly likely London will be Powell and Gatlin’s final clash before they battle for the gold medal in Helsinki - providing the Olympic champion qualifies for Team USA in their sudden-death trials.
Powell, after breaking the world record, insisted he had not been 100% fit when Gatlin narrowly beat him at the Nike Prefontaine Super Grand Prix Classic on June 4.
He said: "At the Prefontaine I was just coming back from a groin injury and wasn’t 100% but that hasn’t affected my confidence.
"Maybe next time you see him and me together we will see something different