Former 100m world record holder Asafa Powell has said the upcoming London Olympics could be his last. With that in mind, he is leaving no stone unturned to qualify to make the Jamaican team and win a medal at the Games.
Even with two world records and close to 80 sub-10secs times to his credit, Powell has never won an individual Olympic or World Championship gold. And for that he has been criticized by many who have posited that he does not have what it takes mentally to succeed at the highest level. Some have argued, too, that while his starts are awesome, he needs to finish like a freight train, barreling through the finish line.
Powell in New York
Notwithstanding, the soft-spoken athlete is loved in his country by fans across all age groups and gender, even if that love sometimes seem to be one of convenience (when he wins). It is fair to say that his worldwide fans just want to see him win a major title before retiring. Powell realizes and appreciates the love he gets and promises to pull out all stops going into London this summer.
He and his coach, the no-nonsense Stephen Francis, have decided to switch things up in an effort to find the answer to copping that coveted gold medal, or at least a medal of a different color. So after eight years, Powell returns to the indoor circuit today to compete in the US Track and Field Open 50m race at Madison Square Garden in New York.
At a pre-meet press conference in Manhattan Thursday, the new at-ease Asafa Powell answered questions freely and easily from the heart:
What is the key to his explosive st
“It’s just night and day practices. Me and my coach would just be out on the track for hours practicing, even when it got dark and we could hardly see. That was when I just left high school and my first time using a starting block.”
How will running indoors help him outdoor when he already has a terrific start?
“The indoors really helps with the start: the first 60m. The more you do it, the more natural and comfortable it becomes. To run indoors a lot is trying to get comfortable with running the first part of the race so you can focus on the last part.
I don’t think there’s a limit to how good you can be with the start. I think I can do better, so I’m pushing myself. If my start gets better, it will be good for my time. I’m trying to max out, but it’s hard to get there. I’m very excited about the possibility of going to the Worlds Indoors; I haven’t done something like that in years.”
What are some of the new things other than running indoor that he is tr
“This year I’m not missing training; I try to attend every training session and do all my workout. Over the years I’ve been kind of lazy, thinking that my talent alone could do it. I’ve tried a few times and it didn’t work. I tried pushing myself to the limit, got injured and kind of backed off, saying to myself: ‘the harder I train the more injuries I get.’ But this year we are traveling with a doctor, which is a first.”
Why has he shunned the indoors for so long?
“The last indoor meet I ran I was injured and my coach decided not to send me back. Sometimes, too, the indoor schedule affects the training schedule for something else when you try to fit it in.”
done relay lead-off and anchor leg duties, which does he prefer?
“Both are very exciting for me, but to be honest, I want to do the best for the team. To run the anchor leg is easy, and I think I could do a better job running the st
What was it like to sit by and watch the Worlds 100m finals from the stands?
I was feeling very good and confident before the Championships. That was the best I felt in a championship year, and it was the fastest I was running in a major championship year. I started feeling disappointed, maybe a week before, because just by my feelings I knew I wouldn’t be able to run, even though I was still trying to come back to run the relay. So I realized that I was out and using up my energy on that [disappointment]. Then I stopped thinking about it and started to support everyone else. At the same time, I had in the back of my mind that if I was there things could have been different. But it was not my time.”
How does he feel about his recent Performance of the Year award in Jamaica?
I was very shocked; I wasn’t even at the ceremony because I didn’t know I could win, but I was very happy and it’s good to know that people still recognize you and are grateful for what you are doing. Jamaicans have been doing that a lot for me. They are the ones who keep me going. Everywhere I go they’d tell me, ‘Asafa you can win, you can break the record’. I have a lot of coaches in Jamaica. Definitely, the support is there and motivates me to work hard.”
Does he feel pressured at this time to win gold?
“The pressure is not a lot less for me in Jamaica but a bit less around the world. The expectation is not very high for me; people are expecting the world record holder to break the record again, so they are not focusing on the other guys in the race. So yes, the pressure has eased a bit but there is still pressure.”
Are his 76 sub-10secs a big deal for Asafa?
“Yes, it’s a big thing, a great achievement. So I’m happy that I went under 10 so many times and I’m still going to see if I can double it.”
How does he want to be remembered
“I would love to be remembered as a World champion, Olympic champion and world record holder. Track and field is really a one-man sport. It’s all about he fastest man, and people are coming to see that person. You could win many gold medals but people want to see fast times. I want to be remembered as one of the greatest sprinters that has ever walked this earth.”
His comments on his mental and physical status
“Mentally, I think I’m good...no problems. Physically, a lot of people don’t understand when an athlete is injured the effect it has on your performance. I have a physical problem.”
Is he bothered by the negative
“No, maybe I’m too laid back. I don’t really let what people say affect me. I’m just focused on the positive things. Knowing that you’ve accomplished a lot will push you
What does he eat?
We male athletes eat pretty much anything, but I think it’s mostly the females who watch their diet. We eat only Jamaican food when we are in Jamaica, but when we travel we eat what’s provided."
Does he believe that being out of the 2011 Worlds will negatively impact his career?
I’ve seen many athletes compete longer than I and still win. Look at Brigitte Foster-Hylton, she won her first major title at age 35. In life, if you give up easily, you are not a real c
pion. I want to be a real champion; I’m working toward it and I’m not going to give up.