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Powell opens with 10.04 in Melbourne

22 February 2008

World record holder Asafa Powell made a positive start to his Olympic season Thursday with an easy win in the 100 metres at the Melbourne Grand Prix.

Powell, overcoming a cut knee that curtailed his training over the past two weeks, finished in 10.04 seconds at Olympic Park, well outside his world mark of 9.74.

He was seven feet ahead of his Jamaican compatriot Michael Frater, who finished in 10.25. Former Australian record holder Matt Shirvington was third at 10.35.

Powell arrived in Australia last week with four stitches in a deep cut in his left knee suffered in an accident at home in Jamaica. He pulled out of a Sydney meet last weekend.

After undergoing a long warmup session Thursday, the 25-year-old Powell decided just an hour before the race that he would run.

Powell, who broke the 10-year-old meet record of 10.06 set by former Olympic and world champion Maurice Greene of the United States, said he ran faster than expected.

"Itís very important that I prove that Iím way faster than 2006," Powell said. "In 2006, I was unhealthy. I havenít done anything for two weeks and 10.04 is really impressive."

Powell first set a world mark of 9.77 in June 2005 at Athens and his latest record at Rieti, Italy, last September.

"This year I am way, way, stronger than other years, so I am not worried about anything too much," he said. "9.74 is in my reach. I want to get there again and I will get there."

In the 400, Olympic and world champion Jeremy Wariner of the United States was an easy winner, finishing in 44.82 seconds, nearly a second ahead of Clinton Hill of Australia (45.78). Sean Wroe of Australia was third in 45.88 and American Darold Williamson fourth in 45.95.

"This is late February, so my training is not really where it needs to be," Wariner said. "Iíve got a lot of things Iím working on with my new coach, but it felt good today and Iím glad to get this race out of the way."

Wariner, who last month split with longtime coach and mentor Clyde Hart, had complained of feeling ill since arriving in Australia and sought medical attention for dehydration after the race.

"Iíve been sick for the past two weeks. Itís been right in my throat and my upper chest, so itís kind of hard for me to breathe," he said. "I had to fight through it though because I knew I needed to get this race done."

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