By Gene Cherry
RALEIGH, North Carolina, May 13, Reuters - Jamaica’s Asafa Powell has a message for the man who broke his 100 metres world record.
Tell Justin (Gatlin) congratulations (but) the record is only on loan,'' Powell was quoted by his agent Paul Doyle as saying shortly after the American clocked 9.76 seconds in Doha, Qatar yesterday. The performance clipped one-hundredth of a second off Powell's 2005 world record and earned the 24-year-old Gatlin the triple crown of sprinting. The soft-spoken sprinter, who once thought about being an artist, joins compatriots Carl Lewis and Maurice Greene and Canadian Donovan Bailey as the only male 100 metres runners to win Olympic and world championship golds and set a world record. If their rivalry wasn’t big enough yet, the suspense of the first race (this season) has just multiplied,’’ Doyle said via telephone from Doha after watching Gatlin break the record.
The two are scheduled to meet for the first time this year at Gateshead, England on June 11 and several more clashes could take place in the European summer.
They only raced twice last year with Gatlin winning both encounters as Powell suffered a groin injury in the second meeting that forced him out of the world championships.
However, both are healthy now and ready to take their rivalry to a new level.
I'm trying to go 9.74, 9.73,'' Gatlin said in Qatar. The race (Friday) really wasn’t one of my best races.’’
Despite fulfilling his recent boasts, Gatlin admitted that setting the world record so early in the season had surprised him.
I know I was talking a lot and wanted to do it and was really focussed on it, but I did not think it would come my second race into the season,'' he said after his race. His game plan from the beginning of training at the latter end of last season was to break the record this year and that focus had not changed, even with the 9.76 clocking, he said. I am actually more motivated now to go out there and run a faster time,’’ Gatlin said.
Both he and Powell will compete in the May 28 Prefontaine Classic in Eugene, Oregon but in different events.
Gatlin is scheduled to run a 100 metres there and Powell the 200 metres, Doyle confirmed yesterday.
Gatlin also will run a 100 metres in New York on June 3, the day after Powell is slated to race the same distance in Oslo in a tune-up for their Gateshead showdown.
Powell was the world record holder when the Gateshead showdown was arranged.
Now I am the fastest in the world,'' Gatlin said. It feels great.’’