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Powell welcomes Bolt challenge
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Jamaican Asafa Powell welcomed the challenge posed by the compatriot who stole his world 100m record as he prepared for his next race in the buildup to the Beijing Olympics.

Usain Bolt, a 200m specialist, startled the sporting world when he clocked 9.72 secs in New York on May 31, with world champion Tyson Gay among the competitors who trailed him across the finish line.

Powell, 26, who has been beset by injury problems this year, was scheduled to meet Gay in the London grand prix at Crystal Palace on Friday before the American withdrew with a hamstring strain. Bolt will run in the 200m on Saturday.

Commonwealth champion Powell edged Bolt at the Stockholm grand prix on Tuesday, clocking 9.88 secs after flying out of the blocks to set up a seemingly insurmountable lead over his teammate.

"I wasn't trying to run a season's best, I wasn't really focusing on Usain," Powell said on Thursday. "I was just trying to execute, to do what I've been doing in training, but I've been injured and I was a little bit nervous.

"But for someone else from our country to come through is very exciting because no matter who wins people will still be happy and excited about it. It's good competition, this is one of the most exciting times in track and field, in the 100 to have three guys running very fast, it's a very exciting year.

Stockholm was an important race for Powell who has sustained knee, hamstring, groin and shoulder injuries this year and has yet to win the major title his talent deserves.

"I posted a good time in Stockholm and I want to go out there tomorrow and do my best. It's to get the feeling of running very fast," he said.

"In my last world record I got a good start and a great finish. I want to run that way again. I got a little bit nervous towards the end, the Olympic Games is coming up and I want to save a little bit for the Olympics. I was just being cautious."

Bolt, 21, said he had been a little bit frustrated by Tuesday's run, when he seemed to take a long time to build up to full speed.

"It was just one of those days. I ran well considering I had a pretty bad start," he said.

Bolt confirmed he would wait until the last possible minute before deciding whether or not to run the 100 in Beijing and said the 200 remained his favorite event.

"That's my love, that's my passion," he said.

Jamaican-born athletes won three consecutive Olympic 100m golds at three consecutive Games from 1988-96, all competing for other countries.

Ben Johnson won the 1988 Seoul title for Canada and was then disqualified after a positive dope test. Linford Christie finished first for Britain in 1992 and Donovan Bailey took the title back to Canada in 1996.

Beijing may be the Olympics where a Jamaican wins the 100 gold for his native country for the first time.

"I am in good form to win, I'm very confident," Powell said.

(Agencies via China Daily July 26, 2008)

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