Posted by Hopwood Wendy
Date: 25th January 2013
Photo Credit: www.karenshinkins.com
Former 100m world record holder Asafa Powell will create history when he lines up in the Australia Post Stawell Gift this Easter.
Powell, 30, will become the fastest man ever to run at Australia’s richest and most famous footrace in pursuit of the $40,000 first prize.
The three-time Olympic 100m finalist has been keen to test himself on the grass track at Stawell for many years, but injury and timing have precluded an appearance until this year.
“I’ve been ready to come down a couple of times over the past few years but I’m happy to say that this year will be the year,” Powell said from his home in Kingston, Jamaica.
Powell will also become the first 100m world record holder to run at Stawell in 62 years.
American Barney Ewell and Panama’s Lloyd LaBeach competed in the Gift in consecutive years at the beginning of the 1950s. In 1948 both jointly held the then hand timed world mark at 10.2 seconds.
Powell held the 100m world record between June 2005 and May 2008, running 9.77 seconds three times before eclipsing that with 9.74 seconds in Rieti, Italy in September. The time stood until Usain Bolt set the first of three 100m world records when running 9.72 seconds in New York in 2008.
With a best time of 9.72 seconds, set in Lausanne post Beijing, Powell now sits at number four on the list of the fastest men in history, behind Bolt (9.58), their Jamaican teammate Yohan Blake (9.69) and American Tyson Gay (9.69).
No athlete in history has run more sub-ten second 100m times than Powell, who has achieved the feat on 88 occasions, although never in Australia. Despite winning the gold medal at the Melbourne Commonwealth Games, Powell clocked 10.03 seconds in both the semi final and final.
“I will need to be in sub-ten second shape and run a faster than a ten second hundred if I want to make the final I think,” Powell said.
Powell’s former training partner Michael Frater came within a whisker of making the Gift final last year after a desperately close photo finish in the semi final to eventual Gift final runner-up Doug Greenough. Frater, who went on to win the XXXX Gold Backmarkers sprint in a slick 12.30 seconds was also keen to return in 2013 but recent surgery will keep him off the track until later in 2013.
“Michael told me about the great time he had last year and he came really close to making the final. I’ve watched the finals and know about Josh Ross and his win from scratch so I’d like to become the third man to do that,” Powell said.
Powell spends a lot of his time training on grass tracks at home and sees this as an advantage in his quest to join Ross and Madagascan Jean-Louis Ravelomanantsoa as the only men to win the Gift from the coveted scratch mark.
“Like most Jamaican sprinters, I’ve grown up running on grass and a lot of our training is dome on grass so that’s no problem. The handicaps are a different story though,” Powell said.
Powell has recovered from the re-occurrence of the groin injury which affected his performance in the Olympic final in London where he limped home in 8th place. The injury kept him out of the 4x100m relay in which Frater joined with Bolt, Blake and Nesta Carter to win the gold medal in world record time.
Long-time manager Paul Doyle travelled to Stawell last year with Frater and loved every second of the unique event. He said Powell has recovered from the groin injury that cruelled his Olympic medal hopes in London.
“Asafa has really matured as an athlete the past couple years. He is taking care of his body off the track and doing all the necessary work to ensure he stays healthy. The groin injury from London has healed and his coach has been doing a lot of preventative exercises to keep the groin issue at bay,” Doyle said.
Minister for Sport and Recreation Hugh Delahunty said the signing was a coup for the Gift.
“To have Asafa Powell running at Central Park is not only great news for the Stawell Gift but for sports lovers, particularly in Western Victoria. To see a former world record holder competing at the Gift will be something to behold. There is always a buzz around Stawell at Easter but I think this year it will be even bigger,” Mr Delahunty said.
“We’ve been chasing Asafa for many years so to finally get him to Stawell is great news,” Australia Post Stawell Gift promoter David Culbert said.
“He has always wanted to add Stawell to his competition bucket-list. We’ve come close a few times but we’re rapt that he’s coming this year. He’s a great guy and the spectators and people of Stawell will find him to be a humble champion. Although he doesn’t mind tinkering with fast cars and I’m sure he’ll be looking for spare parts for his hotted-up Nissan when he’s in town,” Culbert said.
Stawell Athletic Club president Scotney Hayter said it was testimony to the Gift that Powell wanted to add Stawell to his 2013 schedule.
“Given the form of two-time winner Josh Ross in winning the Bay Sheffield in Adelaide the prospect of Asafa Powell and a Stawell legend like Josh in action at Central Park this Easter is mouth watering,” Hayter said.
The 132nd Australia Post Stawell Gift carnival will be staged during the Easter long weekend from Friday 29 March to Monday 1 April 2013.
Visit www.stawellgift.com/event-guide/buy-tickets/ or the SAC office in Stawell now for your individual, family or three day weekend event pass. Corporate marquee packages and memberships can also be purchased.
Asafa Powell – Fast Facts
Born: 23 November 1982 (currently 30 years of age)
Posted by Hopwood Wendy
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