NEW YORK, June 1, 2006 - World and Olympic 100m champion Justin Gatlin headlines Saturday’s New York Grand Prix athletics meeting, but his hometown fans won’t see a showdown with co-world record-holder Asafa Powell.
Gatlin, who matched Powell’s 100m world record of 9.77sec in Doha on May 12, will compete in Saturday’s meeting at Carl Icahn Stadium on Randall’s Island, but Jamaica’s Powell won’t.
Since Gatlin’s withdrawal from a meeting in Gateshead, England, on June 11, their next scheduled clash is in London on July 28.
Gatlin’s agent, former world-class hurdler and National Football League player Renaldo Nehemiah, said Thursday the anticipated clash could come sooner.
``It will probably be prior to London, but I’m not ruling out that London could be the first confrontation,’’ Nehemiah said.
Both men ran at last weekend’s Prefontaine Classic in Eugene, Oregon, but in separate 100m races.
Nevertheless, Nehemiah said he’d like to see them race ``sooner rather than later.’’
Just to get it done,'' Nehemiah said. There are a number of meets it could happen at, but it’s a question of venue and conditions rather than business.
``First and foremost we have to maintain the integrity of the sport. It’s not just about the highest bidder.
``It’s about climate and wanting to have a full stadium. I don’t want 3,000 people in an 80,000-seat stadium seeing these two guys run,’’ Nehemiah said, referring to a July 3 meeting in Athens.
Powell is understood to be running in Athens, then in Paris on July 7 and Rome on July 14.
Gatlin is scheduled to run in Lausanne on July 11 and in Zurich on July 18 before their schedules mesh in London.
Nehemiah did not, however, rule out other possible meets, suggesting Helsinki and Stockholm.
This weekend, the Brooklyn-born Gatlin races in his hometown for the first time as a pro when he goes to the line in the 100.
He is relishing a head-to-head meeting with Powell, given the right conditions.
My people and his people are working on it,'' Gatlin said. People are waiting for this, like when you had Carl Lewis and Ben Johnson.
Everybody in the world stopped to watch them.
I think it's human nature - 'Who's the best?' People who don't know anything about our sport are talking about this. But I want to make sure Asafa is at his A game. I want to make sure the best man wins. For the fans, give it some time. When we get to the line and go head-to-head, I want them to be satisfied.’’