Asafa will run Faster this year his Coach declares

Another world record?
Coach claims Asafa will run even faster this year
Garfield Myers
Saturday, June 18, 2005

He has no idea how much faster Asafa Powell can go, but coach Stephen Francis is certain that this year his young sprinter will take the 100-metre world record even lower than the 9.77 seconds he set in Athens on Tuesday.

“I don’t know how much faster Asafa can run because in sprinting, how fast you run depends a lot on conditions, where you run, how humid it is, how high it is, the wind, the competition, the adrenaline that is flowing and so on. So I can’t tell you… but :smiley: I know that he will run faster than 9.77 seconds this year…,” Francis told Sporting World late Wednesday, shortly after a welcoming ceremony for Powell at the Norman Manley International Airport.

Francis’ confidence stems from the belief that based on training methodology and with the World Championships in Helsinki still six weeks away, his athlete is still some distance from peak condition.

“Hopefully not, and judging from his history, it isn’t so,” said Francis, when asked if there was a danger that Powell, who is now the world’s number one male athlete, had in fact already peaked.

“We always run faster later in the Summer and I don’t think that this year will be an exception. We are trying to see if we can get him to handle instructions about how to run his rounds, which is the difficulty he had last year,” he said.

Last year, Powell placed a disappointing fifth in the Olympic 100-metre final (10.94) in the Olympic Stadium - the very same venue of Tuesday’s triumph - after running impressively in the rounds and entering the final as the clear favourite and the top-ranked male sprinter in the world.
According to Francis, who had gained acclaim for his great success with local athletes in his MVP track club, even before the coming of Powell, the latter would have broken the world record last season had he encountered ideal conditions.

“I knew from last season that when we were finished with him down in August/September he would be able to break the existing world record any time he got favourable conditions,” he said. “I felt he could have done it last year, but he had a big problem with the wind in the races that he had. This year he has had a bit more luck… and I have been expecting him to go this fast from the season started,” Francis added.
After the events of last season, the big challenge, said Francis, was to get the 22 year-old refocused.

“There were two things that could have happened (after last year),” claimed Francis.

“The first thing is that despite all the disappointment about his performance in the Olympics, he had a season that was a whole lot better than he could have ever imagined. He was obviously the number one sprinter in the world and the question in my mind was how do I get him to not rest on those laurels; to get him hungry to come back knowing that he could do a lot better. The other possibility was that he could have used the disappointment of the Olympics to almost give up and to implode almost…” he said.

The danger of demotivation was averted with the help of support staff, team-mates, friends and the policy of constantly “discussing stuff” with Powell, as well as goal-setting.

And in the build-up to the World Champs, Francis says the course will involve methodical training and very selective competition - the emphasis being on maintaining form and building to a peak.

“He (Powell) understands that right now he has raced a lot more than he normally does at this time of the year… and we are pretty much going to go back into a period of training now. Apart from the National Trials next week, he will only race two or three more times before the World Championships and our emphasis will be on preparing him for the World Championships, and the major meets …” said Francis.

He claims that Powell’s virtual unknown status at high school - the world record holder attended the unheralded Charlemont High - has made him more ‘coachable’.

"Asafa has the advantage … that he was never a high school star and when I started coaching him, he had never had a formal coach before, so you will find that he doesn’t have any expectation in his mind, as to what he can do or what he should be doing, he just does it because he wants to do it and he is encouraged …

“You find that he doesn’t really know what his potential is, even when I say to him ‘Boy, you know you can run this fast’ he says ‘Yeah’ because he doesn’t understand just how fast he can go … It is easy with him. A lot of the athletes that I coach were never great stars at high school. We are trying to pick athletes like that because we figure that accomplishing on the senior level is more about attitude than talent,” he said.

Way to put the pressure on!

There’s nothing worse than someone bragging for you.

Asafa now a ‘marked’ man
Track & Field
By Paul Burrowes Observer staff reporter
Sunday, June 19, 2005

Has Asafa Powell run too early too quickly? Will he be able to maintain his superb form for another couple of months to become Jamaica’s first World Championships 100m gold medallist?

POWELL… must be prepared to become one of the sport’s most tested athlete
Is he also prepared to become the most drug-tested athlete?
American sprinter Maurice Greene, three-time 100m World Champion, complained bitterly about the drug-testers knocking on his door when he was about to eat breakfast, take a shower, or brush his teeth.

They were just annoying, Greene fussed!
Powell ran 9.77 seconds on June 14 to break Tim Montgomery’s previous world record of 9.87 seconds set on September 14, 2002, in Paris.

Interestingly, one month before the inaugural World Championships in Helsinki, Finland, in 1983, the USA’s Calvin Smith was in superlative form. He broke Jim Hines’ 100m world record of 9.95 that stood for 15 years.

Smith clocked 9.93 in Colorado Springs, entering the World Championships as favourite to beat his gifted compatriot Carl Lewis.

Smith, like Powell, was also 22 years old at the time; but while Powell had no major championships medal, Smith boasted two Pan American Junior Championships silver medals in both the 100 and 200 metres.

Smith had to settle for the silver in the 100 metres (behind Lewis) at the World Championships, but he was spot on in the 200 metres, winning the half-lap event not only in 1983, but also at the 1987 World Championships.

Lewis won the 100m in 10.07, ahead of Smith, 10.21 seconds.
In fact, Smith had never won a World Championships gold medal in the 100 metres, despite his world record-breaking performance. His best individual placing at the Olympic Games was a bronze at the 1988 edition.

Will Asafa share the same fate? His coach Stephen Francis does not think so, and given his coaching skills, one is inclined to agree with him.
But is Smith just one example?

Lewis later equalled the world record at the 1987 World Championships in Rome (9.93) and broke his own world record (9.92 seconds) at the 1991 World Championships in Tokyo where he posted 9.86 seconds in the final. The top six finishers all ran under 10 seconds, including Jamaica’s Raymond Stewart, 9.96 seconds.

Leroy Burrell, another speedy American, also smashed the world record in the 100 metres. But did he become champion at the World Championships, or even the Olympic Games?

Burrell twice broke the world record, first in New York in 1991 when he lowered Lewis’ first world mark of 9.92 seconds to 9.90, and again in 1994 when he erased Lewis’ second world record of 9.86 to 9.85 in Lausanne in 1994 at the age of 27.
Yet, what does Burrell have to show for it?

Burrell was the silver medallist at the 1991 World Championships (9.88sec), and at the 1992 Olympic Games, Burrell placed a disappointing fifth (10.10sec).
And what about Montgomery, whose world record Powell has broken?

Montgomery has never won the 100 metres at the World Championships. He was third in 1997 (9.94), sixth in 1999 (10.04), second in 2001 (9.85), and fourth in 2003 (10.11).

Facing serious doping charges with the BALCO drug scandal, the 30-year-old American sprinter might never compete again, having never won a world title in the 100 metres.

Can Asafa suffer the same fate? When it comes to Powell, his truest parallel is probably Greene, gold medallist in the 100 metres at both the World Championships and the Olympic Games.

On June 16, 1999, when Greene broke the world record in Athens, clocking 9.79 seconds, he dipped under-10 seconds nine times that year.
Sounds familiar? Powell ran sub-10 seconds nine times in 2004.

Amazingly, Greene has run under-10 seconds a record 51 times in his carreer. Can Powell better, or even come near, that feat?

The number one male athlete in the world in track and field overall and world record breaker, Powell generally has two more aims - gold medallist in the 100m at the World Championships and at the Olympic Games.

Can Powell stay the course, keep his chin up through fair-weather friends and great disappointments, and realise his dreams as one of the greatest sprinters of all time? Only time will tell.