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Bolt-Gay clash draws Powell's attention

31 May 2008

By Gary Smith

When the starter’s gun goes off to release the men from the blocks in the Digicel 100m dash at the 2008 Reebok Grand Prix in New York on Saturday, one man whose eyes will definitely be glued to the track will be world record holder Asafa Powell.

To show the seriousness of this match up between Jamaican Usain Bolt and American Tyson Gay, Powell will not even have time to blink or take a breath, or he might just miss out on a spectacular performance from either sprinters.

The clash between Bolt, the second fastest man ever over 100m, with 9.76-seconds and Gay, the World sprint double champion is billed as the highlighted event at the meet and if Bolt comes out victorious, Powell’s achievements as just the world record holder could very well start taking a back seat.

Powell opened with a relaxed 10.04 earlier this season during a training camp in Australia. However, in middle of some important meeting dates, the record holder suffered a chest injury that forced him out of competition and opened the doors for Bolt to shine in an event he’s still learning to run.

A source close to the Jamaica Amateur Athletic Association (JAAA) and the training camp of Powell, told Caribbean Net News that the World Championships bronze medallist has become scared of competition and if he continues to back down he will continue to get hurt when the big days come.

“I respect Asafa Powell a whole lot and he is a fantastic sprinter. But when it comes to competition time he’s just too scared,” the source told Caribbean Net News.

“First it was Justin Gatlin and now it is [Tyson] Gay? When he used to defeat Tyson on the circuit he had no problem racing against the American, but now that Tyson has developed into a better sprinter Powell has become timid.”

The source went on to say that Powell’s problem could even be in his coaching and management, while taking the time to give praises to Glen Mills, who is Bolt's coach.

“Look at Usain, he is not afraid to race against anyone, and that is what I respect about [Glen] Mills, he knows how to get his athletes ready for any challenge.

“Bolt realized that the glory days are not until August [in Beijing], so testing his competitors to know how they compete is the right thing to do,” he source added.

Powell is set to race at the Paris Golden League meeting in July, but his coach Stephen Francis said if there is a fitness problem he will be pulled.

“He (Powell) will run (in Paris) unless he has fitness problems,” Francis said on Friday.

Meanwhile, on Friday Powell promised to deliver in Beijing, after failing in Athens, four-years-ago. He cited lack of maturity as his main problem in the last Olympic Games, but promised that this time will be different.

“Four years ago, I was not that strong, so that weight was too much for me,” Powell said.

“I can bear the pressure now. I am just waiting for the time to deliver.”

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