Asafa Powell sets 100-meter world record

Updated: 2007-09-10 06:38

Asafa Powell of Jamaica celebrates after setting the new world record in the 100 meters at the 37 th IAAF Grand Prix meeting in Rieti September 9, 2007. Powell lowered the world 100 meters record on Sunday with a time of 9.74 seconds. [Reuters]

RIETI, Italy - Asafa Powell set another world record in the 100 meters, and suspects he can go even faster. The world's fastest man improved his record Sunday, winning a heat at the Rieti Grand Prix in 9.74 seconds despite easing at the end.

"This means that I can do even 9.68," Powell said. "I'm worth that time, I know it."

The record comes only two weeks after the Jamaican finished a disappointing third at the track and field world championships in Osaka, Japan.

"I made a couple of mistakes and I corrected them," said Powell, who lowered the mark by 0.03 seconds, having run 9.77 three times. "That's what happens when I start to listen to the coach."

The heat, the second of two, was run with a strong tail wind, but it was below the maximum allowed by track and field's governing body, making the record valid.

In the final, Powell won in 9.78 - with no tail wind. Michael Frater of Jamaica was second in 10.03, followed by Jaysuma Saidy Ndure of Norway in 10.10.

"Today I ran like I should have done at the worlds," Powell said. "At Osaka I was too tense, I was thinking about the race and the time I had to set. Instead here I was relaxed."

In the heat, Ndure was second to Powell in 10.07, and Kim Collins of St. Kitts and Nevis was third in 10.14.

After winning the final, Powell celebrated amid a crowd of photographers on the field of Raul Guidobaldi stadium, throwing a bouquet of flowers into the stands. He also ran a lap of honor, shaking hands with fans and signing autographs.

"Me and my coach have been working to getting myself back to normal," Powell said. "I came here today and I executed properly and did what I was supposed to do."

Powell is only the fourth non-American to hold the 100 world record since 1912. Donovan Bailey of Canada (1996), Armin Hary of West Germany (1960) and Percy Williams of Canada (1930) are the others.

Rieti is a fast track on which six middle-distance world records have been set. That was not lost on Powell, who was trying to bounce back from his disappointing performance at the worlds.

"It's a very fast track. I love this track. It's very bouncy," said Powell, who trains in Italy three months of the year. "Italy is a good place for me. It's my second home."

Powell first set the world record of 9.77 in June 2005 in Athens, Greece. Justin Gatlin matched the time in May 2006, but the American faces a suspension of up to eight years following a positive doping test for testosterone and other steroids at the Kansas Relays a month earlier. In June 2006, Powell again ran 9.77, and then did it a third time in August 2006.

But despite the fast times, Powell has struggled at major competitions, missing a medal at the 2004 Athens Olympics. At the worlds, he finished behind gold medalist Tyson Gay and Derrick Atkins, running 9.96. The bronze was Powell's first major medal.

"That was a race I had to win and I didn't. Enough. I lost," Powell said. "The real Powell is the one from today, not the Osaka one."

Powell had also been one of the favorites at the 2003 worlds, but he was disqualified in the heats for a false start. He missed the 2005 worlds because of a groin injury.

Michael Johnson, the world record holder at both 200 and 400 meters, criticized Powell during the worlds last month, saying the Jamaican is "not a great competitor." Johnson said Powell gave up in Osaka when he was overtaken by Gay in the final 40 meters.

"He's not a great competitor, you can see it in his eyes," Johnson wrote in his column for the BBC. "He can learn to be a great competitor, but first you have to admit that you're not."

Powell should get another chance to race Gay next Sunday. Both are scheduled to compete at the Golden League's Memorial Van Damme meet in Brussels, Belgium.

Sally McLellan of Australia won the women's 100 in 11.30, with Stephanie Durst of the United States second in 11.37 and Debbie Ferguson-McKenzie of the Bahamas third in 11.38.

Several world champions also won, including Lauryn Williams of the United States in the women's 200, Janeth Jepkosgei of Kenya in the women's 800, Yargelis Savigne of Cuba in the women's triple jump and Irving Saladino of Panama in the men's long jump.


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