Asafa Powell ready for Stawell challenge

Date: 27th March 2013

Former 100m world record holder Asafa Powell says he is ready to create history when he lines up in the Australia Post Stawell Gift this weekend.

Powell, 30, will become the fastest man ever to run at Australia’s richest and most famous footrace and says he is ready to stake a claim on the $40,000 first prize.

“I know I am in good shape, if I wasn’t in good shape I don’t think my coach would allow me to come here, so I think I am in pretty good shape to put on a good show,” Powell said.

“I have been working very hard after London. I am in pretty good shape, not the best yet because we are still in background training and haven’t really started speed training, but I am strong right now and I am very excited to see what I can do on the track.”

Of course there are plenty of unknowns for the three-time Olympic 100m finalist, such as the handicap nature of racing at Stawell, the lanes ropes and finishing gates. Whilst they pose question marks on his capacity to take victory, one thing is not in doubt – the Jamaican’s ability to run on grass.

“I train on grass September to February so I am used to the grass,” Powell assured journalists.

“I heard that the surface is very beautiful there. It’s a new experience for me, somewhere new.  I will learn a lot and maybe next year you can ask me the same question and I can answer a lot of things about Stawell.

“He (former training partner Michael Frater) was saying that it was very difficult, you know running through the barriers because it was his first time, he did not know what to expect, but he stressed on the point they had a lot of fun and it was a very exciting event and he would want to come back if he was able.”

Only two men in the 131 previous editions of the event have won from scratch, two-time winner Joshua Ross and Madagascan Jean-Louis Ravelomanantsoa.  Ross is seeking to elevate himself to the top of the pantheon of Stawell winners by becoming the first man to win the Gift three times.

When asked if he could achieve the feat, Ross was confident.

“I believe so. I know what it takes, I know what has to be done, I know how to do it, I have done it twice before and there is no doubt in my mind that I can do it again,” Ross said.

Ross also went some way to explain what it would take for Powell to win off scratch.

“It’s hunger, it’s mindset, it’s self belief, it’s the whole package,” Ross said.

“It’s your training; it’s your lead up. Everything has to be perfect. Your moons have to align on the day, and they did for me in 2005.”

Powell will 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 of 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 2007.  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 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.

The 132nd Australia Post Stawell Gift carnival kicks off this Friday with the Calcutta and Call of the Card, followed by the heats of the Australia Post Stawell Gift on Saturday.  The semi final and final will be held on Easter Monday.

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