Asafa Powell of Jamaica smiles during a training session in Daegu on
Wednesday. Photo: Reuters
Secret is out: Powell won't run
August 26, 2011
ASAFA Powell, the man most likely to stop countryman Usain Bolt achieving his desire to become a ''legend'' of athletics, was yesterday dramatically withdrawn from the world championships.
Powell was confirmed as a withdrawal only an hour after farcical scenes when his teammate, Michael Frater, innocently admitted he had been drafted in to run the sprint because Asafa was out.
Embarrassed Jamaican team officials had not made that decision public and denied that Powell was not running. Bizarrely, team manager Grace Jackson said she had no knowledge of an injury.
Advertisement: Story continues below
So too did Bolt when he took the stage, feigning surprise. ''Asafa is out? This is the first I am hearing about that.''
An hour later, Powell's manager said a groin injury sustained four weeks ago would stop him challenging Bolt.
Now, Bolt confronts a field without Powell, who has recorded the fastest times this season, and the apparent next best challenger, American Tyson Gay. Bolt said he was yet to reach the ''tip-top shape'' of two years ago in Berlin, but what was within reach was the goal to elevate himself as a legend of the sport.
''I do not think I am in 9.5 [second] shape, but I think I will be able to run fast,'' he said. ''I have said through the season, this world championship is going to be the first step to becoming a legend, so it's very important to me. You have to take the first step to be able to take the second step, which would be at the [London] Olympics.''
Bolt is the fastest man in the world with the quickest time ever recorded (9.58) and is the reigning Olympic and world champion in the 100 and 200 metres. Defending each title is such a rarity it would elevate him to sporting immortality, he believes.
''A lot of people have said I am a legend, but I do not look at it like that … but in two years? I am working on it.''