Powell enjoying headline status
29 June 2011, 2011
Asafa Powell is enjoying being the main attraction ahead of Thursday's Diamond League meeting in Lausanne, where he ran his fastest-ever 100 metres.
Powell told The Associated Press on Wednesday he's "the top man" again in Lausanne, with fellow Jamaican Usain Bolt skipping the event.
Powell's 9.72 seconds in September 2008, at the same track, remains a career best and track record.
"I was the top man, but at most of these meetings ... it's Usain. It's always a question of if I'm going to beat him," said Powell.
He was the world's fastest man for three years before Bolt took his record ahead of the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
A relaxed Powell is heavily favoured to lead home a 100 line-up including Frenchman Christophe Lemaitre.
"It's kind of back to my old self where everyone was asking me what time I was going to run," said Powell.
The spotlight will be shared with 800 world record-holder David Rudisha, who returns to the Diamond League after injuring his left ankle.
Croatian high jump world champion Blanka Vlasic will seek her 100th competitive 2-metre leap.
Lausanne marks the midway point in the 14-meet Diamond League circuit, and parades four current Olympic champions and 12 world champions.
Though the 28-year-old Powell has yet to get a major individual gold medal, he shapes as defending champion Bolt's biggest threat at the worlds in Daegu, South Korea in August.
Powell booked his 100-metre ticket by winning the Jamaican title last Friday, three weeks after straining his right hamstring in a race at Rabat, Morocco.
"I'm confident and it's good to feel healthy," he said at a news conference shared with Lemaitre.
The 22-year-old star of European sprinting, who lowered his best to 9.95 this month, trailed Powell by 0.07 when both were beaten by Bolt at Rome's Golden Gala in May.
"If Christophe is still very close (Thursday) I will be happy for him as well. That means he will get a personal best," Powell joked, getting a laugh from Lemaitre.
Rudisha returns to elite racing, and a clash with world champion Mbulaeni Mulaudzi of South Africa, after running the world's fastest 800 this year in his comeback last Friday.
"Everything went nicely and I was impressed by the time," the 22-year-old Kenyan said of his 1:43.46 effort in Nancy, France.
"The pain is almost gone completely. I'm feeling good and my shape is coming nicely despite the fact I was out of training for some weeks."
The 2010 men's athlete of the year has made winning a worlds gold medal his priority before trying to lower his 1:41.01 record - perhaps in September.
"My point of view is 1:40 is possible to run. After the world championships, maybe I have a few races to run. The way I felt last year, if I just push a little bit I could get there," Rudisha said.
South Africa's Caster Semenya, world champion in the 800, runs in the 1 500.
The 20-year-old Semenya seeks a first victory in her third Diamond League race since being cleared to return after undergoing a gender test.
After a slow start this summer, Vlasic hopes to raise her spirits by marking a personal milestone of 2-metre jumps.
"If it happens, it will be a really nice celebration," said the 27-year-old Croatian, who won in Rome at just 1.95 then lost at a windy, rainy New York meet.
"I wanted to throw away my passport and never come back home," Vlasic said. "It's very hard to deal with heights below two metres but I think the worst part of the season is over."
Olympic champions competing on Thursday include Norway's Andreas Thorkildsen in the javelin, Cuban 110-metres hurdler Dayron Robles and discus thrower Stephanie Brown Trafton of the United States.
The Lausanne leg of the Samsung Diamond League will be shown live on SuperSport 7 and HD2 on Thursday from 7:45pm (SA, CAT, GMT+2).