While the world waits to see just how low Jamaican Olympic hero Usain Bolt can take the 100m world record, former world record-holder Asafa Powell plans to make 2009 a golden year.
Bolt eclipsed Powell's 100m world mark last year, and also relegated his compatriot to also-ran status at the Beijing Olympics, where Bolt won not only the 100m but also the 200m in world record time as well as capturing gold in the 4x100m in record-setting fashion.
During the year Bolt broke Powell's former world record of 9.74 seconds twice, clocking 9.72 in June and 9.69 at Beijing in August.
His exploits made it easy to forget that Powell still owns seven of the 12 fastest 100m performances in history.
Although Powell was part of Jamaica's triumphant 4x100m team in Beijing, in the individual event he wilted under pressure and was fifth - a repeat of his disappointing performance in Athens four years earlier.
Injury forced him out of the 2005 athletics world championships, while at the 2007 worlds he finished third.
This year, he says things will be different.
Powell, who watched Bolt cruise to a wind-aided 9.93 in his debut 100m this month at a local meeting, said he is focusing on getting it right this season.
"We are working on everything that we think would be a problem," said Powell, who recently returned from a successful training camp in Australia. "We are working on everything that we think would be a weakness (and) even what is not a problem we are still working on it.
"Everything - the mental part of it, strengthening and technical."
Bolt's coach Glen Mills said he hopes Powell can put it all together before it's too late.
"Asafa is a fine sprinter who will probably go down in history as one of the finest technicians ever seen on the track," Mills said.
"He is running out of time, but I hope that one day on the world stage he will be able to collect the kind of accolades that he deserves."
While training in Australia, Powell produced an impressive 45.94 to carve 1.23 off his previous best 400m time at the Sydney Track Classic.His bid to notch a fast early-season 100m time was thwarted by a strong headwind as he won the event at the World Athletics Tour meeting in Melbourne.
Powell's coach, Steve Francis, believes his sprinter can better Bolt's world record. "I expect Asafa to be able to run well enough this year to break the world record," Francis said.
(AFP via China Daily March 25, 2009)