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I can win Olympic gold - Powell

24 July 2008

Asafa Powell has hit back at claims that he lacks the mental strength to win Olympic athletics gold this summer.

The former 100m world record holder is yet to win a major global title despite being the world's pre-eminent sprinter for much of the past four years.

"It doesn't scare me. The guys that I'm running against in Beijing are the same ones I run against all year," he said.

"It's no different at the Olympics - it's just a name, and you should put that aside until you cross the line."

With world champion Tyson Gay struggling with injury and new world record holder Usain Bolt yet to commit to the 100m in Beijing, Powell is in pole position to seize the Olympic crown.

The 25-year-old has also run under 10 seconds more times than any other active athlete, but is yet to convert that dominance to major medals.

Four years ago in Athens he finished only fifth, while at last summer's Worlds in Osaka he trailed in third behind Gay and Derrick Atkins.

He added: "If all you guys look back and check from before, you'll see that Athens was my first Olympics, I ran my personal best in the final - so I'm not sure why people say I don't run my best in finals.

"The World Championships was the only final where I didn't do as expected. I made a once-in-a-lifetime mistake and it won't happen again."

Meanwhile, Powell's Jamaican compatriot Bolt says he has still not decided whether he will run the 100m in Beijing.

Bolt was considered a 200m specialist until this year and took silver over that distance at the World Championships last summer, but he made a huge breakthrough over the shorter distance in May when he ran 9.76 secs at the Jamaica Invitational and then a new world record of 9.72 secs at the Reebok Grand Prix in New York.

He has the option of running both distances at the Olympics but is currently committed only to the 200m.

He said: "I'll decide at the last possible moment. The decision is for my coach really.

"Mentally I'm always strong and ready to compete, but physically it would be hard on my body.

"I've been doing the work in pre-season and during the season and I'm ready to double-up, but it's all about my coach."

Powell runs the 100m at the Aviva London Grand Prix at Crystal Palace on Friday night, in a race that has the largest cash prize - 25,000 GBP - of any in British track history.

And he insists that the absence through injury of his American rival Gay will not affect his chances of scooping that jackpot.

"With or without Tyson I was planning to run fast," said Powell. "I'm running against myself - I'm the only one who can defeat myself and I don't intend to."

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