Gatlin v Powell: Venue, Climate The Decider

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.’’

Gatlin pull-out is a shot in the foot

The cancelled Justin Gatlin showdown with fellow 100 metre world record holder Asafa Powell would have kept athletics in the pre-World Cup spotlight, says Steve Cram

Tuesday May 30, 2006,,1785456,00.html
Athletic stars have always had the almost unique privilege in top-class sport of being able to choose where and against whom they compete. At the lower end of the world pecking order it is a thankless task at times waiting for invitations to meets and often accepting places in races that would not normally fit into preparations. However, if you are Justin Gatlin or one of the decreasing band of crowd pullers, it is an intriguing game of trying to maximise income, avoid defeat and have the bonus of running some races in which you genuinely want to compete.
By those measures it is understandable that Gatlin’s agent Renaldo Nehemiah pulled him out of the meeting in Gateshead a week on Sunday. They probably feel the deal negotiated before his world record-equalling 100 metres run could be bettered elsewhere, although the organiser Fast Track is rarely outbid. The fact that Asafa Powell, the initial record holder, was his scheduled opponent would not necessarily faze them, although a defeat in June would not be good box office. He may have heard stories that the North-east can be affected by unhelpful winds and a lack of warmth - and that is nothing to do with the hospitality.
All that being said, Nehemiah apparently signed a contract with Fast Track to compete in three meetings in the UK including Gateshead and at no point was it stipulated that Powell would not be allowed into the field. Tickets have been sold on the back of what had promised to be one of the most exciting races at Gateshead for years and a rare chance for athletics to steal a headline before the World Cup, starting that weekend, sweeps other sport into small print for a month.
Nehemiah broke the world record for the 110m hurdles on a balmy evening in Zurich 25 years ago. He raced regularly against all his main competitors and enjoyed the popularity the sport enjoyed in those days. In that same summer Steve Ovett and Seb Coe exchanged world records despite never racing each other.
Nehemiah is a well respected and successful agent and he argues that, like Coe and Ovett, it would be better for Gatlin and Powell not to race each other regularly to generate more public interest when they eventually do. He has a point but in today’s environment the sport needs meaningful competition away from the major championships and, when two men jointly hold the world record for the 100m, it provides a perfect opportunity for both to raise their profile and that of the sport.
Instead we get the farcical situation of them racing in separate races in Eugene, Oregon, on Sunday and the winner being declared the man with the faster time. When did our sport become a series of time-trials?
For the book Gatlin ran an impressive 9.88sec with Powell clocking a none too shabby 9.93 sec, admittedly with a stronger following wind. What messages does that send out to athletes and meet promoters? No one could have any qualms about the two athletes racing in the same meet over different distances but, if you want to run the 100m, you should be prepared to race all the entrants in that race.
Gatlin and Powell are reputed to be receiving six-figure sums for their appearances in Britain and that sort of fee should guarantee the athlete races in a bona-fide fashion against whatever field the promoter puts together. Where contracts exist, then agents and athletes should be held accountable if they are broken without good reason.
No other sportsmen or women are allowed to breach agreements with such apparent ease and cheat the paying public into the bargain. This is a sport which needs to find ways to excite television sponsors and, most particularly, the general public. It can ill afford to pass up opportunities to give those watching a proper spectacle.
Gatlin versus Powell every week would indeed be counter- productive but their individual crowd-waving performances in Eugene and the withdrawal of Gatlin from Gateshead only adds to the growing lack of interest and disillusionment.
Nehemiah told USA Today that “everybody’s clamouring for the first meeting”. Well, I’m sorry, Renaldo, but once the World Cup starts Justin could break three world records and get no more coverage than every other man’s metatarsal.

They should do what Arnold did for bodybuilding, compete against everybody you could. You dont know your the best untill you beat everybody. Give them no place to hide. Hunt them down and race them.

However, if you are Justin Gatlin or one of the decreasing band of crowd pullers, it is an intriguing game of trying to maximise income, avoid defeat and have the bonus of running some races in which you genuinely want to compete.

Exactly. I say ‘go get that money’. Plus I don’t need to see Justin & Asafa race 5 times in a year. Make 'em pay up. I think both guys have a lot of reputation on the line when racing each other. Right now they’re both the fastest man on earth.

this is dumb. a gatlin/powell meeting is more important now than ever.

That’s not how it works. Say you race for a prolonged period as the number one guy. The person who would beat you will dog the early races against you, maybe finishing 8th a few times while you must win. Then when you’re tired, he puts in his best effort and scores a win he could never achieve on equal footing. Screw that. When you show up, you want to be at your best and ready to go. They have to play on YOUR terms, otherwise, they can go piss up a rope!

Another Brit Whinger heard from. As if he didn’t do the same thing when it was to his advantage.

wanted to say nearly the same…but who could better answer :slight_smile:

By the way: they dont have to beat “everybody” because everybody knows that Asafa and GAT are the best. Its a decision only between them!

Zürich is on August 18, not July. These leaves several options for Gatlin as Asafa already announced his coming meets.

Athens as more than enough money to make the dual, but Nehemiah wants full stadium.
Paris has the money too and i think i could be there. And IAAF said that they would prefer to see the dual at a Golden League event. The track is not known as fast though.
Lausanne sounds possible though from what i heard. One thing is sure nothing is done yet.

One possibility though is killing the goose that lays the golden eggs. Right now the story seems to be more about the $$ and less about who is faster. Nehemiah’s public statements, at least what I’ve seen, are more about $$ than the excitement of the event. People get bored quickly with shop talk. All involved should be hyping this hard and talking less (publicly) about logistics and money.

From around here, people dont want to know that “whoever” is making, they want to be entertained. They want real races. Does not mean that they want gatlin to race powell every chance they get. Have Gatlin race other want to be’s and win, have Powell race other want to be’s and win. Then when a big race is coming up, have the best 8 runners race. Which should include Gatlin and Powell. Build it up by having them race others, prove that they can Win against others, both being winners, then have a Race. Boxing does it, Tennins does it well, Football, as do other sports. Athletics seems to run against that stream, and its also loosing spectators too. Well it is in australia. In 6mnths things can change at who can be in the top. The focus should not be on Gatlin and Powell every race, but more of a Gatlin V’s everybody and Powell v’s everybody, then a final decider at end of season. Worlds and olympics are good examples, but what about the other yrs?? Sure you might win at Grand prix, but the worlds are where it counts for a win. Maybe, perhaps it already is done, there should be something for the public to know about in none olympic and world yrs. eg, sure Gatlin got the Tied WR and has the Olympic title, but will he do it this yr at the Major meet in 3mnths time where it counts? ect ect.
Perhaps, perhaps im thinking to much and am hungry? Eat time.