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Bolt to square off against Powell in nationals
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Bolt to square off against Powell in nationals

The Jamaican athletics championships will feature the world's fastest men Usain Bolt, Olympic sprint double champion, and former world record holder Asafa Powell in a 100m showdown.

While Bolt's 9.77 seconds run in Ostrava earlier this month, could be used to justify his condition, Powell's readiness for the weekend meet is questionable.

"Not 100 percent, but I am in good enough shape," Powell said.

Powell aggravated an ankle injury at the Penn Relays on April 25, which kept him out of Oslo, but return outings at the Reebok Grand Prix (10.10, 7th) and Prefontaine Classic (10.07, 2nd) in May, produced below par performances.

"I am still suffering from the ankle injury. It's not (healing) as fast as I want it to, but I am still training."

"I am running well in training. I started to look like my old self. The confidence level is there, just not in any big competing attitude."

As for Bolt, he is using the trials to get in race shape and aims to run hard in the 200m.

"For me the trials is always a 9.8 run, because the aim is to make the team," Bolt said.

Bolt is down to run the 100 and 200 double, but said more focus will be the on latter.

"I am trying to run myself into shape, so I think I will be running the 200m harder, because I have not run any 200m all season"

Last year, Bolt, who spent the last 15 metres of the race joking around with Powell, won the event in 9.85.

This year, however, both men could be pushed to the line as more Jamaicans are running their way into the sub-10 seconds club.

Michael Frater, Yohan Blake, Steve Mullings, Marvin Anderson and Dwight Thomas will be there, although their first aim would be to battle for the third spot.

In the women's sprints, Shelly-Ann Fraser and Veronica Campbell-Brown, the Olympic 100m and 200m champions, will have strong competition.

Fraser, who had surgery to remove an appendix in April, said, "I am about 90-99 per cent ready."

"I am just looking forward to going out and doing my best."

Fraser will not have any easy road, as Olympic silver medalist Kerron Stewart, the world leader at 10.92, will start as the favourite.

Campbell-Brown opted out of the 100m because of her wild card entry, in the women's 200m.

In the 400m hurdles, Danny McFarlane, Isa Phillips, Adrian Findlay, Dean Griffiths and Markino Buckley are the top men.

(AFP via China Daily June 26, 2009)

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