Powell flies out despite plea to stay
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February 23, 2008
THE world’s fastest man flew out of Australia yesterday despite a plea to his coach that the squad remain for next week’s Australian championships in Brisbane.
Asafa Powell, who ran a blistering 10.04 seconds over 100 metres at Olympic Park on Thursday night despite being immobilised with a gashed knee for most of his stay, wanted to stay. But his coach, Stephen Francis, wanted to get back to Jamaica for crucial high school meetings that are the nursery for the Caribbean nation’s prolific school of sprint talent.
Commentator Dave Culbert, whose Jump Media company handles athletics’ media and promotions, said it was as much a case of Powell and his teammates enjoying Australia as wanting to run at the national titles.
"Asafa wanted a lot more time here because he was enjoying Australia and had been immobilised most of his time here. If that meant running the nationals, he was willing to do it," Culbert said.
“He and Michael Frater asked the coach, but he said, ‘No’.”
Powell won a host of admirers for the lengths to which he went to race on Thursday night. The four stitches closing the cut were removed last Saturday and Powell reacted badly to his first running session, pulling up stiff and sore.
Despite that, he persisted. Indeed, the man who attracted some criticism for not running fast enough when he won a Commonwealth gold medal in the 100 on the MCG two years ago in 10.03, won unabashed praise for running at all.
According to the international point-scoring tables, Powell’s 10.04 was only the second-best of the meeting. Fair enough, perhaps, given that the great man was three metres slower than his world record of 9.74.
Top mark of the night, according to the tables, was Steve Hooker’s 5.82 metres in the pole vault. Scott Martin’s national-record 21.27 metres in the shot put was third, even though it would have won the gold medal at the 2004 Olympics Games and a minor medal at every world championships since 1991 and Olympics since 1992.
Reaction on the night might have put these three in reverse order, with Craig Mottram also right up there with his stirring run to win the 5000 metres and Jeremy Wariner with his sub-45-second 400 metres.
No doubt, after a relatively quiet season until the Sydney meeting last weekend, athletics officials were happy there were plenty of great performances.
As the world’s fastest man leaves Australia, the world’s fastest man in the 50-kilometre road walk has been ruled out of today’s Australian 20-kilometre title in Melbourne by a bizarre injury. Nathan Deakes has a stress reaction in his second rib, a precursor to a fracture. His absence from the title, which is also the Olympic trial, jeopardises his chances of claiming an Olympic spot in the event in which he won a bronze medal four years ago in Athens.
Deakes said yesterday he had no idea what had caused the injury, which is more common in rowers and athletes in other events involving the upper body.
Deakes already has been pre-selected in the 50-kilometre, the event in which he won a gold medal at last year’s world championships. Deakes and Luke Adams are the only Australians to have attained the A-standard in the 20-kilometre. Adams is an automatic selection, subject to fitness, and should two others get the A-standard today, the selectors would have to choose between one of them and Deakes for the remaining two spots.