Working on the little imperfections..an interview with Asafa Powell,
World Record Holder,100 meters, conducted by Larry Eder, January 6, 2008
(This interview was conducted over the telephone with Asafa Powell, the world
record holder at the men’s 100 meters, the the current bronze medalist
at 100 meters from the world championships.
Asafa was at the Avia OCMarathon, as the official starter of the marathon and the five-kilometer run,
on behalf of his sponsor, Nutrilite. We thank JD Osman from Nutrilite for his
assistance with this interview and support of the sport of athletics.
Asafa began his running career at the ripe old age of 18, after having played
soccer. in 2001, Asafa ran 10.50 for the 100 meters; he improved to 10.12 for
the 100 meters and 20.48 for the 200 meters in 2002. In 2003, Asafa ran
10.02 and a wind-aided 9.9 for the 100 meters, getting some notice. His
9.87 for 100 meters in 2004 shook up the track world and the 22-year-old
was seen in his first Olympic final, where he took fifth. In 2005, Asafa Powell
set his first world record at 100 meters, in 9.77, and in 2007, after his bronze
medal performance at the Osaka World Champs, Powell broke the world
record, running 9.76 in Rieti, Italy. Asafa is coached by his college coach
from the University of Technology, in Kingston, or UTECH, Steve Francis.
One more bit of trivia, Asafa’s oldest brother, Donovan, was the 1996 NCAA champion at
60 meters indoors!
Runblogrun caught up with Asafa at a PR event for his sponsor, Nutrilite. Asafa
was firing the starting pistol at the Avia OC Marathon in Irvine, California.)
RBR: Good morning, Asafa; so, how did you like being the starter and not a competitor?
Asafa: Good morning! I was here to start the marathon and the five-kilometer. There was a lot of energy. You could feel the adrenaline in the runners as they lined up…it was like the feeling in a track meet, except I was not competing.
RBR: Is there a difference between the energy at a track meet and the energy at a marathon or a road race?
Asafa: I am sure there is a difference; at the track, I am competing, but now, I am watching. I was feeling the same energy from the runners. I have a lot of admiration for them.
RBR: How did you get started in the sport of athletics? What was your first event?
Asafa: I first did the 100 meters; my event now. I have never tried anything else. I was 18 when I started. I played soccer before I started tracking.
RBR: What was your training like in secondary school?
Asafa: In high school, I never did much training. I would work out with my brother Nigel. I would just to do a couple of things he learned from high school. I really did not do much training in high school.
RBR: When did you know that you could make it as a professional runner?
Asafa: At first, I was not really thinking about that. . I went to the UTech ( University of Technology). My coach, Steven Francis, brought me to Europe in 2002. I saw I was getting some money. That was when I realized that I was a professional runner.
RBR: Do you still enjoy being a professional runner?
Asafa: I am still enjoying it, although some people put a lot of pressure and expectations on me. Pressure is pretty hard sometimes.
RBR: Tell us about the world record this past summer?
Asafa: That felt very relaxed. I was not expecting to run a world record. We were there to make a couple of corrections with my coach. We did some practice sessions. I went out and tried it, and I was very surprised!
RBR: What does it feel like to set a world record?
Asafa: Great feeling. It has been a while for me, since 2005 (he set his first world record in 2005 in 9.77 for the 100 meters), so, I am kind of getting use to it. I am really loving
it, you get alot more popularity, you get a lot more respect.
RBR: How much faster can you go?
Asafa: Well, I ran very easily for the last world. 9.68. Today ( laugh), someone dreamt that I ran 9.6; that is a dream, though.
RBR: You talk about correcting little imperfections; surely there are not a lot more things to correct in your sprinting?
Asafa: There is a lot more to correct! My coach said that I did not do part of what we practiced (during the world record run). There is always something to correct.
RBR: What has it been like to run in Olympics, World champs?
Asafa: My first Olympics was a dream for me growing up; the only thing that most people dream about is going to the Olympics. I was very nervous at such a young age.
RBR: I remember seeing you in Athens in the 100 meters! What did it feel like on the track with the music and 80,000 Greek fans clapping and stomping?
Asafa: When I went out there, I was really excited; when all the music started, the crowd made a lot of noise. I got the chills, and that is when I started to think, this is the Olympic final. I am in the Olympic final!
RBR: What is your best distance? 100 meters, 200 meters?
Asafa: If I trained for 400 meters, I could have had a good time. I can run a fast 200 meters if I go for it. I like it the 400 meters, but, it requires a lot of training, I would run the 400 meters if i could train like it was the 100 meters ( slight laugh).
RBR: I asked Carl Lewis the same question. He asked me if I was crazy!
RBR: What would you tell young runners about your event?
Asafa: The key to the 100 meters is that it is very technical. It takes a lot of hard work. A lot of people might say the race is so short it cannot take much training. But it takes a lot of time. You have to be dedicated. Do what you do in practice when you race on the track. Execute from the start to the finish; always remember to execute.
RBR: Who is your favorite track athlete of all time? competing today?
Asafa: (Asafa was concerned he would leave someone out, so I promised him that we would say he admires many athletes…) I like Linford Christie; he reminds me of me, as he is very tall when running. Right now, I like Jeremy Wariner and Sonya Richards. I like Tyson Gay, he is a very fine sprinter. I admire many athletes, I do not want anyone to think I have not included them.
RBR: If you were not a sprinter, what event in track and field would you do?
Asafa: I would do the long jump.
RBR: Asafa, here is your final question. Do you like running relays?
Asafa: Relays are the most exciting. They require teamwork. I really like to go with a team. You put out alot more. Teamwork is key. I push myself alot better (in order) to give my team a gold medal!
RBR: Asafa, thanks for your time today! I will hope to see you in late March when I attend the Jamaican high school championships!
Asafa: Thanks. That is a great meet!
(And with that, the interview ended. Asafa was on a tight schedule, as his next venture was to sign autographs for one thousand fans waiting for him.
Asafa did mention one other thing of note-he will not be running the World Indoors
In Valencia, Spain. Indoor tracks and Asafa do not mix well. He equates the tight turns
with injuries, and 2008 has a little meet in Beijing that Mr. Powell is focused on…)
For more on the OC Marathon, try: http://www.runningnetwork.com
For more on the sport of track and field, try: http://www.american-trackandfield.com
There is no University of Kingston. The right name is the University of Technology or UTech for short.
Much thanks! I will correct!
Great interview. Very inspiring and uplifting. Can’t wait until the Olympics.
I’ve had a dream. The 100 meters is going to hot in Beijing. I can’t wait for the show down. Track Mom who do you think will prevail?
asafa is da bombb.
On February 24, Asafa ran 10.04 in Australia!
If my sources are correct, I believe the current World Record (held by Asafa) is 9.74….not 9.76