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Powell set to combat fear of giving it everything

28 July 2006

By David Powell

The X-Man and express man promised yesterday to make the Norwich Union London Grand Prix at Crystal Palace this evening a night to remember.

The X-Man is Xavier Carter, who runs his first 200 metres since recording the second fastest time in history two weeks ago. Sitting next to the American at City Hall, promoting the meeting, was Asafa Powell, Jamaica’s runaway express of the 100 metres.

Powell’s credentials are firmly established. Having won the Commonwealth Games title in March, he has beaten 9.90sec four times this summer, including a 9.77 performance in Gateshead last month, equalling the world record he shared already with Justin Gatlin. Carter, by contrast, has to prove he is no one-race wonder.

Without saying specifically that he was aiming to take exclusive possession of the world record tonight, that is clearly Powell’s objective. He was reminded that Gatlin, from the United States, holds the stadium record from his 9.89 performance last year and was asked if that was a mark he could go for confidently. “Yes,” Powell said, as if the question was barely worth an answer.

All Powell has to do is kick the habit of easing down before the line. He did it in Gateshead and said of his 9.86 run in Stockholm on Tuesday, which followed runs of 9.85 in Paris and Rome: “The 9.8s are getting easier with each race. After I clear the field I get really relaxed and stop pushing it. It is a bad habit that I need to get out of.

“It goes back to the groin injury which I have been plagued with for the past couple of years. I would be running with the pain and, whenever I was clear of the field, I would ease up. The closer I get to the finish line sometimes it goes through my head ‘What if something goes?’, so I lay back.” He added, though, that he was determined to give it the full 100 metres tonight.

“I will try,” Powell said. “I need to stop being scared and push myself to the limit.” He said he would put out of his mind his experience in the corresponding meeting last year when he pulled up injured, effectively ending his season.

Carter burst from international anonymity to become hot property when recording 19.63sec in Lausanne. X-Man, his nickname given to him by his youth basketball coach, has stuck and even his parents call him by it at home.

Of Michael Johnson’s world record 19.32, Carter said yesterday: “I don’t think it is impossible to get.” His aim tonight, he said, was to move closer to it.

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