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Rediff.com  » Sports » Powell erases doubts over record

Powell erases doubts over record

June 15, 2005 19:59 IST

Asafa Powell, the softly spoken son of a preacher, has snatched the world 100 metres record away from a man who might have lost it anyway after being charged with serious doping offences.

The 22-year-old Jamaican clocked 9.77 seconds at the Athens Olympic stadium on Tuesday, one-hundredth of a second under the mark set by American Tim Montgomery at the 2002 Paris grand prix final.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport will announce in the next few weeks whether Montgomery should be banned for life and lose his time and earnings from the Paris meeting.

Powell erased all doubts surrounding the record when he confirmed his excellent early season form with a finishing time of 9.78, rounded down by 0.01 of a second to ensure he took sole possession of the world mark.

"I knew that I could break the world record and I am very happy that I succeeded," Powell said. "If you ask what I can do more this year, you will just have to wait until the end of this season to see."

First on Powell's agenda, though, must be the Helsinki world championships in August.

Two years ago he was disqualified in the quarter-finals at the Paris world championships. Last year he was unbeaten, apart from the only race which really mattered when he finished fifth in the Olympic final.

Powell is only the fourth non-American to hold the world 100 metres record since 1912 and the first since Jamaican-born Canadian Donovan Bailey clocked 9.84 seconds in the 1996 Atlanta Olympic final.

He also provides full vindication of a scheme set up in Jamaica by former hurdler Brigitte Foster to ensure young athletes do not feel impelled to move to the United States or Europe for economic reasons.

The Caribbean has been a fertile environment for world class male sprinters but, since Hasely Crawford won the 1976 Olympic 100 final for Trinidad, they have won the highest honours for their adopted countries.

Ben Johnson, disqualified for doping after winning the 1988 Seoul Olympic final in 9.79 seconds, was born in Jamaica, as was Linford Christie who won the 1992 Olympic gold for Britain.

Christie was succeeded by Bailey as world and Olympic champion.

Powell, whose relaxed, laidback demeanour makes a pleasant contrast to the extrovert Americans, is clearly as talented as any sprinter in history and could well reduce the record further when the European summer really hots up.

Asked on Tuesday how fast he could run, Powell smiled, shrugged and replied: "Who knows? Nine-something?"

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