Local experts praise Gatlin, but see Asafa regaining record
Paul Burrowes, Observer staff reporter
Saturday, May 13, 2006
Asafa Powell (left) winning the men’s 100 metres with countryman Michael Frater following the A-Series athletic meet in Melbourne, Australia on March 9, 2006. (Photo: AP)
As promised, Olympic and World Champion Justin Gatlin of the United States broke Jamaica’s Asafa Powell’s 100m world record yesterday.
Gatlin, coached by Jamaican-born Trevor Graham, clocked 9.76 seconds (1.7m/s) at Doha Super Grand Prix meet in Qatar yesterday.
Graham told the media earlier this year that his charges, which also includes Shawn Crawford of the USA and Jamaica’s Dwight Thomas, would be targeting the world record this year.
Gatlin shaved one-hundredth of a second of Powell’s 9.77 seconds (1.6 m/s) set on June 14 in Athens, Greece, at Tsiklitiria Super Grand Prix.
Bruce James, president of MVP Track Club, of which Powell is a member, told Sporting World yesterday that Gatlin’s time “was very fast, very quick”.
“But what I find interesting is the second place time of 9.84 seconds,” added James. Second place went to Nigerian Olusoji Fasuba.
“Only two persons had run faster than 9.84,” James pointed out, "Asafa Powell (9.77 seconds) and Maurice Greene (9.79 seconds).
“It is clear to me that Fasuba has improved and Asafa is probably running about 9.75 seconds,” he noted.
James based his predictions on Powell and Gatlin’s early season form.
Both men ran 9.95 seconds on May 6, Powell in a -0.6 m/s wind and Gatlin in a -0.1m/s wind.
Maurice Wilson, coach of top schoolgirl track and field team Holmwood Technical, said yesterday: "Gatlin got a perfect wind, conditions were perfect for him.
“Once Asafa stays injury-free and with the right wind speed he will be able to run a little faster than Gatlin, and I am not being biased,” he explained.
“Asafa is just where he was last year and with the right conditions, he could probably run 9.75 seconds,” he added.
Meanwhile, Jamaica’s seasoned sprint coach Glen Mills said he was “not surprised” by Gatlin’s performance.
“Gatlin is a sprinter of the highest calibre, running several 9.80s and obviously is in tremendous shape. While +1.7m/s wind is within the limits, it is of some assistance,” Mills stated.
Times recorded when the wind speed is 2.0 m/s or more is considered illegal or wind-aided.
But for Mills, who coaches Jamaica’s Usain Bolt and Kim Collins of St Kitts and Nevis, what is important is the head to head battle.
“A similar wind in a head to head battle is the sure test of who is the better sprinter and the best man. Head to head is what really counts,” explained Mills, who also coaches Olympic sprint relay champion Aleen Bailey.
Powell and Gatlin will meet at the Norwich Union British Grand Prix in Gateshead on June 11.
Both last met on the track at the Norwich Union Grand Prix last July when the Jamaican pulled up after a few strides with the groin problem that was to rule him out of the World Championships.
Gatlin had defeated Powell in Eugene two months earlier when they were both credited with the same time of 9.84secs and the American appears to have the upper hand over his rival, holding a six-three win record.
Asked if he believed that Powell will break the American’s new world 100m record, Mills said: “I don’t know Asafa’s timetable. Times are fascinating and conditions will control time,” said Mills, but “Asafa won’t be outdone”.
However, Mills is not concerned too much about “holding the reputation of breaking a record alone” for “records will be broken”. The sprint coach wants to see them at action in a major championships.
“Asafa is more matured and ready take on Gatlin in a World Championships battle, that is the true trojan test because that is where you are crown champion,” he said.
Asafa’s father William Powell, said “congrats to him man”, referring to the American Gatlin.
“When the two of them meet then we can talk,” said father Powell, a pastor who lives in Orangefield, a farming district just outside Linstead, in St Catherine.
“When dem meet, it’s going to be different,” said father Powell, who revealed that he hadn’t heard from Asafa up to press time yesterday afternoon.
Powell and members of his MVP Club were scheduled to be in Santo Domingo for a meet today.
“He just left yesterday, maybe we’ll here from him later,” the senior Powell ended.