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Did Powell relinquish another world record opportunity?

24 July 2006

Asafa Powell (Image of Sport) Asafa Powell (Image of Sport)
By Gary Smith

Jamaican 100-metres joint-world record holder Asafa Powell may be distraught after he could very well have let two glorious opportunities to lower the mark slip by already this season.

The two turn-downs

Asked to fill in for an injured Justin Gatlin at the 'Athletissima' - IAAF Super Grand Prix meeting in Lausanne, Switzerland on July 12, Powell turned down the invitation, citing that the meeting was not included in his season calendar, therefore he would not travel to compete.

However, after watching Chinese Olympic star Liu Xiang remove the world record in the men's 110m Hurdles and reviewing another sizzling performance by American 20-year-old Xavier Carter (19.63 for the 200m), Powell was left regretting not taking up the offer to compete at the meeting.

Powell's latest turn-down was the 28th edition of the Vardinoyiannia meeting held in Rethmyno, Greece on Friday, and after witnessing American 200m specialist Tyson Gay blazing to a stimulating life-time best of 9.88 seconds in legal conditions, the Commonwealth Games champion must still be kicking himself for letting another perfect opportunity skid by again.

Clearing the air

Meanwhile, according to source close to the athlete, it was said the Jamaican had indicated that he would not run at the meeting because of the difference in payment from the top of the week, but was still asked to make an appearance with the rest of his MVP track club members, who were down to compete.

However, differences between team officials and airport representatives in Venice on Wednesday saw the entire party missing their flight, which caused a huge debate in the media world, the following day.

With the news spreading rapidly in media outlets and reported actions to be taken against the track club, team coach Stephen Francis was quick to address the matter.

"Asafa (Powell) was not down to compete at this meet, so he did not withdraw as stated in these reports," Francis said in a discussion statement on Thursday.

"The meet promoter asked us (as a favor) to allow the other athletes (Michael Frater, Sherone Simpson and Brigitte Foster) to run and for us to still carry Asafa to the meet even though he would not be competing," Francis continued, "We agreed."

Meet official Vangelis Melikounakis said in a report that the organisers would decide on Monday whether or not to take action against the Jamaica-based party or their manager, adding that they had submitted a report to the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) and the European Athletics Federation (EAA) expressing their unhappiness.

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