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Clash of Titans for Tyneside

10 May 2006
www.gazettelive.co.uk

Asafa Powell (left) and Justin Gatlin (right). (Image of Sport) Asafa Powell (left) and Justin Gatlin (right). (Image of Sport)
www.imageofsport.com
The long-awaited sprint showdown between the two fastest men on the planet will take place at the Norwich Union British Grand Prix at Gateshead's Inter-national Stadium next month.

The mouthwatering clash was confirmed today when Asafa Powell, the world 100m record holder, agreed to a face-to-face with Olympic champion Justin Gatlin.

There is no other scheduled meeting between the pair before Tyneside, so by the time the June 11 showdown comes round it will be more than a year since they both finished in the same race.

They last met on the track at the London Grand Prix in July of 2005 when Powell - after running an impressive 10.02 seconds in his semi-final - pulled up after just a few strides in the final with a recurrence of a groin problem.

The same injury ruled him out of the World Championships the following month.

Gatlin went on to win the race in 9.89secs, the fastest time ever run in the UK.

The previous meeting lived up to every expectation with Gatlin taking the tape in 9.84 in Eugene, USA. Powell was given the identical time.

Ten days later - with Gatlin absent - Powell stormed to a world record time of 9.77 at a grand prix meeting in Athens, but he was injured in training shortly afterwards. Prior to Eugene, the last time the pair clashed had been the 2004 Olympic final in Athens which Gatlin won ahead of Powell, who trailed in a hugely disappointing fifth.

The American now has the edge over his Jamaican rival with six wins to three.

That said, Powell looked back to his best in winning the recent Commonwealth title in Melbourne.

Their clash in Gateshead will be the focal point of the Norwich Union British Grand Prix and should threaten the stadium record of 10.05.

Gatlin has admitted that his main focus this year is claiming the world record for himself.



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