Sydney 400m for Asafa

Scott Gullan

February 23, 2009 12:00am

FORMER 100m world record holder Asafa Powell will make a rare appearance in the 400m at Saturday night’s Sydney Track Classic.

Powell and his training squad, which includes Olympic 400m hurdles champion Melaine Walker, were put through a tough training session by coach Steve Francis at Olympic Park this morning.

Francis said the 400m experiment fitted perfectly in his current training phase and Powell would then revert back to the 100m for next week’s World Athletics Tour event in Melbourne.

The Jamiacan superstar will face a high-class field in Sydney with all of Australia’s best 400m runners to line up including Joel Milburn, John Steffensen, Sean Wroe and Kurt Mulcahy.

While hopeful of a personal best in the 400m, Francis believes Powell can become the first man to break the magical 10 second barrier in Melbourne next Thursday night.

"I think he will definitely break 10 seconds because he is in great shape,’’ he said.

Powell, who finished a disappointing fifth behind Usain Bolt in the 100m final at the Beijing Olympics, admitted he was in far better condition than his previous visit to Australia 12 months ago.

"It is very, very possible,’’ he said.

"This is my third time coming here to Australia and I would really love to give the crowd something fantastic here.’’

Powell ran 10.03sec to win the Commonwealth Games 100m gold medal at the MCG in 2006.

I am curious, in what way would a 400m workout followed by a 100m race in which the athlete is asked to run fast be of benefit?

I guess I still don’t understand the role of 400s in Powell, or Bolts training.

Or Tom Tellez’s training of Lewis and Burrell: Thwey “raced” a time trial over 400m 10 days before each peak, including world or Olympics. Lewis ran 46.2 or thereabouts 10 or 11 days before Tokyo in 1991 where he opened with the first sub-9.90 and Burrell also went under 9.90 in second place (from memory).

I think the idea is American in origin and is based around the notion that the sprinter is forced to “excite” and “recruit” extra muscle tissue which would not normally be “awakened” in the course of normal 100 and 200 training. So they are looking for some kind of super-compensation effect, but it is based around a neural approach to improving performance. It sounds good, not sure whether it actually works that way though.

Interesting. I guess the next question is why now in February are they looking for this? Could this also mark the end of a training phase? How much longer are they in Oz?

They are emerging from a block of GPP and are entering a very brief racing cycle: a cycle lasting maybe only for two meets - both in Australia. Powell will compete in a 400m and 4x100m in Sydney and then in Melbourne the following Thursday he aims to go sub-10 and maybe run another relay but that’s only a guess.

Powell - “I’m working hard to get myself back on top”

Sydney, Australia - Asafa Powell’s urgent mission to remake himself into the world’s fastest man and cut down fellow Jamaican Usain Bolt will make a flying start in the Sydney Track Classic at Homebush on Saturday (28).

The Sydney Track Classic is one of a select group of Area meetings at which points can be acquired by athletes to qualify for the IAAF / VTB Bank World Athletics Final, to be held on 12-13 September in Thessaloniki, Greece.

A trimmed-down Powell has arrived in Australia and did his first training session yesterday morning in Melbourne in readiness for what he expects will be a painful experience in the Sydney 400m race.

Caribbean sprinters traditionally start their competition season with a 400m, although the science behind the practice doesn’t necessarily match up to the logic of the theory that it helps the athlete recruit muscle fibres which may lay inactive if not for the extreme fatigue induced when racing over 400m.

So Bolt raced 400m over the past two weekends in Kingston, running a solid 45.54sec last Saturday which may be the standard by which Powell can judge himself in Sydney.

Powell’s best is by comparison a sorry 47.17, although he is more of a 100m specialist than Bolt who won the 100m and 200m in World record times at last year’s Olympic Games.

Powell was almost written off after placing ‘only’ fifth in his second Olympic 100m final, but he came back with an astonishing run to anchor the Jamaican 4x100m relay to a World record in Beijing and then on September 2 in Lausanne he ran his fastest 100m ever of 9.72sec, just 0.03sec slower than Bolt’s record.

What has been generally forgotten is that Powell missed more than two months’ training with a gashed knee and then a shoulder operation after ripping the muscle from his shoulder while bench pressing in the gym.

He then strained a groin muscle at the Rome Golden League on 5 July and did not race again for 20 days, competing only then in London (9.94) and Monte Carlo (9.82) before lining up in Beijing.

Coach Stephen Francis has examined every aspect of his training to try to help Powell avoid injury and peak when it counts.

“What happened at the Olympics proved a lot because it was a big contrast between how Asafa did versus other members of his training group,” Francis said.

“We were able to zero in on what his problems were and I think we have taken steps to hopefully give him a better opportunity to reveal his true abilities. A lot of it has to do with expectation, a lot of it has to do with his approach to being under pressure.”

“We have been working to change… and we are hoping that when the time comes he will be better than he has ever been.”

And after setting the 100m World record in 2005 at 9.77, equalling that twice in 2006, lowering it to 9.74 in 2007 and clocking a personal best 9.72 last year only a fool would dare write him off.

“It’s a lot easier now being in second place,” Powell admitted yesterday (22). “It gives you something to work for. I’m working hard to get myself back on top. I’m working on everything. I’ve been working with a psychologist and others, just so I’m ready to win when the times comes.”

Part of that process involves committing to a 400m race in Sydney where he will line up against top Australians including Olympic semi-finalist Joel Milburn from the Blue Mountains, fellow Olympian Sean Wroe, Commonwealth champion John Steffensen, the phenomenally talented American Xavier ‘X-Man’ Carter and another Jamaican, Sanja Ayre and Japan’s Yoshihiro Horigome.

Milburn is excited about racing Powell: “We all know he’s one of the fastest people ever to walk on the Earth. I’d hate to race him in 100m… I’d just look stupid.”

“I’ve run at a few meets where he has competed but I’ve never talked to him. I’ll try to talk to him before the 400m, before he loses his breath.”

Mike Hurst (Sydney Daily Telegraph) for the IAAF

I thought a lot of it had to do with not following what his Coach suggested ie the pec injury

A trimmed-down Powell …
Does this mean he has deliberately lost size? Pics?

I have seen a pic of him taken in Australia this year and he looked bigger, but I received a couple of messages from people with him who said he has definitelt slimmed down, “around the midsection” was how it was worded.

Who knows. I’m sure once he races that 400m there will plenty of pix of him - including a few horizontal I bet:D

Out of curiosity…

Powell is in Australia now and will be staying for a few more days…why doesn’t he stay a little longer and enters the Stawell gift?

Because someone of his calibre doesn’t step into the blocks for $40,000 AUS.

Because someone of his calibre doesn’t step into the blocks for $40,000 AUS.

Really? How much is he getting to run in Sydney or Melbourne? $40,001?

Are any of you guys attending the Sydney meet this Saturday? If you’re a coach you might be interested in a Franno Q & A from 2-4pm at NSWIS. Free, coaches only though.

I don’t know (Kitkat, do you have any insider information?), but at Stawell he would have to race three rounds and win to get his $40,000. I don’t think he’s coming to Australia to make money. Also, he’s not going there alone, so Francis would either have to make the gift part of the programme for his entire stable or leave Asafa alone in Australia.

Maybe he should take a second look at global economic trends. Then again, how much does it cost to live in the slums?

Backmarkers never win anyway- they always get beat by some guy with a 20m head start.

If you are in 10.10-10.20 shape you have a chance to win as a backmarker. (see Josh Ross). To win, Asafa would only need to be capable of running 120m on grass (very slightly uphill) in under 12s. The maximum headstart is 10m, but it seems to be mainly 10.50-10.70 sprinters running off a 5-7m mark that win.

Yep I am goiing to be there, hoping my little kiwi can so some further damage against the aus men, is it being held in nswis rooms at the track?

That should be a good experience for him, will be interesting to see how he goes.

Are you or someone else who attends able to provide a summary of Francis’ talk?

yep sure I’ll take notes and post it when i get a chance

you got rep points for simply saying you would :smiley: