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Powell tipped to lower 100m mark

Source: bbc.co.uk

11 September 2007
By Sarah Holt

Jamaican Asafa Powell will continue to beat his own 100m world record, says Dr Steve Ingham, lead physiologist for the English Institute of Sport.

Powell, 24, set a new mark of 9.74 seconds to better his previous best by 0.03secs in Italy on Sunday.

Ingham told BBC Sport: "My gut feeling is the physiology of Asafa Powell lends itself to lowering the world record because he has such an explosive start.

"I wouldn't be surprised if he is able to lower it below 9.7 seconds."

Powell broke the 100m record for the second time in two years at the Rieti Grand Prix in conditions perfect for sprinting.

The Jamaican's record was aided by a trailing wind of 1.7m per second - under the maximum legal limit of 2m per second - in warm temperatures and on a quick track.

Ingham, who is a specialist in understanding how to fine-tune athletes' bodies to improve performance, says Powell is likely to continue to set the 100m benchmark ahead of rival and world 100m champion Tyson Gay.

"In the final third of the race in Italy, Powell took his foot off the gas and cruised through the last 10m and that is the best indication that he could lower the record," said Ingham.

"Powell has an explosive start and an amazing transition phase but he does tend to fatigue, however, with the right training he could reach higher and higher speeds in the final third.

"Gay is not as quick out of the blocks as Powell. He gets up to speed late in the race, so his peak speed is only achieved in the final third.

"With the high level of competition between the top two sprinters, I would expect the 100m record to continue to improve."

American Jim Hines was the first man to run below 10 seconds in 9.95 in 1968, and Powell remains as just the 10th man to better the world record.

That record has moved on by just 0.21 seconds in almost 30 years but Ingham predicts that man has not yet exceeded his limits in athletics' blue riband event.

"At the moment, there is no sign that the 100m world record is slowing up," said Ingham.

"We're not seeing huge chunks of time elapsing before the record is surpassed again.

"Until the record does start slowing up then we might get an indication of what genetic improvements can be made in training and what the limits of the record might be.

"In the women's 1500m, for example, we think the world record (three minutes, 50.46 seconds) is as quick as it's going to get for the foreseeable future as performance has plateaued - we're not there yet in the 100m."

However, Ingham does not expect the 100m world record to be set at next year's Olympic Games in Beijing.

Powell may have set the world record twice, but has yet to win a global title, calling into question his ability to perform in high pressure situations.

"If you become tense you do not get the best out of your muscles," says Ingham. "And 100m relies on not having any inhibition from the front and back muscles.

"It's perhaps not a surprise to see Powell going to the Worlds as a strong contender but not being able to produce it on the day.

"But he broke the world record with the pressure off at a relatively low importance meeting.

"It is very rare to see improvements on world records at the major championships when the heat of the competition is on."

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