Second Chance - The Success Story of Asafa Powell

Second Chance - The Success Story of Asafa Powell

by Sheldon Wright Observer Teenage Writer Calabar High School

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

What kind of world would it be if nobody got a second chance to do something right? Here’s the remarkable story of how Asafa Powell, current World 100m Record holder nearly never made it to Boys’ Champs, much less become an international track sensation. Read on…

Asafa Powell

From the cool climes of Orangefield village, a bauxite community near Linstead, St Catherine, hails World 100m record holder Asafa Powell, last of six sons in a proud line of athletes.

His humble parents were athletes back in their younger days. His six brothers, (two of whom are deceased) were all athletes at some point. In fact, Donovan ‘the Olympian’, the eldest of the Powells, who has represented his country twice at the Olympic Games - in Barcelona and Sydney 2000 - is still involved with athletics, presently as a coach in Texas.

Eventually, Asafa’s brother Nigel went the way of music, and as a music teacher has successfully coached his pupils to winning 17 gold medals in the JCDC Festival competitions.

Tragically, two of the Powell boys, Vaughn and Michael, passed away in quick succession, Michael, during a game of football and his brother shortly afterwards, from a heart attack on hearing the news of his brother’s death. Their other brother Ricardo lives at the family home and like his brothers is very proud of Asafa, the youngest of the family.

Like his brothers before him, Asafa Powell attended the Charlemont High School, but at school it was felt that Asafa did not take his work very seriously, spending a lot of time giving jokes in class. Some things he didn’t joke about, like in his high school yearbook, a jovial Asafa declared that his ambition was to become a “famous athlete” and his destiny was to “Bruck World Record”.

But joking during class time turned out to be a mistake, and by graduation time Asafa realised he needed to be in school at least another year in order to win a track and field scholarship for university.

His brother Nigel Powell unsuccessfully tried to get him into St Jago High, but unfortunately no one there believed in giving Asafa Powell a second chance, although he represented Charlemont High at Boys’ Champs and was named champion boy more than once.

All hope seemed to fade away for the young man, out of school, off the track and out of luck it seemed, when his mentor, Mrs Elaine Frazer, came into his life.

Mrs Frazer instantly recognised Asafa’s talent and determination, and realising that all he needed was someone to believe in him, took the young athlete under her wing.

She was instrumental in assisting him to regain admission to his alma mater, and encouraged and motivated him to go to training even when he didn’t feel like going.

But with his new lease on life, Asafa was determined to succeed, and in that year he trained really hard, went to many track meets to gain experience, trained against athletes from the G C Foster College and even managed to beat some of them.

At Boys’ Champs 2000, Asafa was set to make his biggest appearance ever, and previewed his first place when he won his semi-final heat in a blistering 10.65 seconds to advance to the final.
That afternoon, it was his time to shine, and as the athletes lined up to the tape for the 100m finals the tension was thick and heavy.

On your marks… get set… Pow! the gun fired, and Asafa makes a false start. Was it nerves? They do it again…

Asafa false-starts a second time. This time it’s too late, and although he runs over to the starter pleading desperately for another chance, it’s to no avail.

He watches Steve Mullings win the race eventually, the race that should have been a great opportunity to showcase his hard work and God-given talent gone.

But Asafa Powell seems to be king of second chances, and although he was not able to run that race, a famous local coach Mr Steven “Frano” Francis did notice his potential, and invited Asafa to join the MVP training camp at the Universtity of Technology in Kingston.
The rest, as they say, is history.

Despite a disappointing performance at the 2004 Athens Olympics, Asafa Powell has more than proven himself to be a world-class athlete. At just 22 years of age Asafa Powell holds the world 100 m record in 9.77 seconds and is now one of the most feared track athletes in the world.

It goes to show that we all need second chances to set things right in order to achieve success. But even so, it doesn’t matter who you are, or where you come from, we as young Jamaicans, don’t need to look to crime and violence.

Once you have a dream, if you pursue it with a passion and believe in yourself, trust in God and have stong family ties, with perseverance you can rise to the top of your field, just like Asafa did.