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100m guessing game

11 July 2006
www.gazettelive.co.uk

Asafa Powell will not compete in tonight's IAAF Super Grand Prix in Lausanne in place of fellow world 100 metres record holder Justin Gatlin.

The 23-year-old will instead concentrate on preparing to keep a clean sheet at the third IAAF Golden League meeting of the season in Rome on Friday.

Gatlin's withdrawal from the Swiss event has raised concerns about the seriousness of the knee injury which also kept him out of last week's SGP event in Athens.

Powell was asked before the Greek meeting - as he was by Lausanne organisers after winning the title in Paris on Saturday - to step in for his American rival. But the Caribbean star is still wary of the groin injury which brought his summer season to a halt last year, forcing him to miss the World Championships.

Powell's agent Paul Doyle admitted after the Jamaican scored a very fast 9.85seconds victory in the Stade de France: "He is often tired after a race and he has to be careful with his groin."

So it is not surprising Powell is saving his best form for the four remaining GL events where he remains a candidate to win the $500,000 Golden Jackpot.

After Rome he is scheduled to compete next Tuesday in Stockholm, before supposedly lining up against Gatlin at the Norwich Union London Grand Prix on July 28, although there have been conflicting reports in recent days on whether or not the pair's eagerly-awaited first clash of the season will definitely take place at the Crystal Palace venue.

Given the Olympic and world champion's problems since retaining his USA Championships title last month, the confrontation seems likely to be put on hold until late August, while London organisers are attempting to clarify whether the contest will go ahead and expect to make an announcement in the next couple of days.

Gatlin's absence and Powell's unavailability has seriously weakened the strength of the 100m field in Lausanne, although there are plenty of other top events in the programme.

Yelena Isinbayeva, who posted a world leader in the pole vault in Paris, returns to the Stade Olympique de la Pontaise, where she raised her world record to 4.93metres on her outdoor debut.

Russia's 24-year-old Olympic champion then broke it a further four times, culminating in a clearance of 5.01metres to win the world title.

Marion Jones, back on song after a few tough years, will also be aiming to maintain her season's clean sheet ahead of her world-class rivals on a track where she set the Athletissima meeting record of 10.72secs, eight years ago.



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