Asafa Powell is a very talented young man who has broken the world record several times. He anchored the 4 x 100 meters to a new world record for his country in Beijing, clocking 37.10. He has been labeled a choker in many circles because he can race well on the circuit, but not do as well on the world champs or Olympic stage.
As a former coach, my take on Mr. Powell is that he has some block about racing the rounds in championships and Olympics. There are racers and there are championship racers. Asafa, in my opinion, needs a good sports psychologist to help him figure out what keeps him from using his obvious talents in the World Champ and Olympic arena.
For a fascinating interview, check out Bob Ramsak’s chat with Asafa which we have published below in its complete form:
TRACK PROFILE Report #821
POWELL: ‘MAYBE I’M JUST NOT A GUY FOR CHAMPIONSHIPS’
By Bob Ramsak
(c) 2008 TRACK PROFILE Report, all rights reserved
LAUSANNE, SWITZERLAND — After a pair of Olympic appearances without a medal, and just a bronze medal showing at the world championships, Asafa Powell seems resigned to the fact that he may just be historyâ€™s fastest man without a major title. At least that was the impression he left when speaking with reporters in Lausanne this afternoon.
â€œWho knows?â€ the former 100m world record holder said, when asked about his apparent inability to produce on the worldâ€™s biggest stage. â€œMaybe Iâ€™m just not a guy for those championships. Maybe Iâ€™m only the kind of guy to compete in Grand Prix and Golden League races.”
Powell set his fourth 100m world record in Rieti, Italy, a year ago, clocking 9.74 seconds, and has indeed nearly been without peer in one-day invitational meets since his rise through the ranks in 2004.
â€œWhen Iâ€™m on the circuit, Iâ€™m always winning. I donâ€™t know how to explain that.â€
He said that it didnâ€™t take him too long to accept that the Olympic final in Beijing ended in yet another missed medal. He was a distant fifth there, clocking 9.95.
â€œItâ€™s not the first time,â€ he said, breaking into a wide smile, â€œso itâ€™s not so hard to get used to it and look ahead.â€
Even with the sensational rise of his fellow Jamaican Usain Bolt this year, Powell is hardly ready to throw in the towel.
â€œBefore, I took sprinting to another level. Now Usain has taken it to another, even higher level.â€
â€œEverybody has their time,â€ he said. â€œI was the man to beat before, now heâ€™s the man to beat and in the spotlight. Last year everybody was asking me about Tyson (Gay). Who knows what will happen next year?â€
Powell arrives in Lausanne on the heels of his 9.87 victory in Gateshead, England, on Sunday, where he crushed the field despite the dismal, cold and rainy conditions.
â€œI didnâ€™t expect to do so well,â€ he said. â€œThe rain was really falling, I was very impressed.â€
Is his 9.74 PB, until June the world record, within his grasp on Tuesday night?
The track is really fast, so I just want to go out there and give my best performance,â€ he said. â€œIâ€™ve been working on a lot of stuff, especially my technique. Iâ€™m in good shape. Iâ€™ve had a lot of injuries this year, but I still feel pretty strong.â€
Like the rest of the world, Powell said he was impressed with Boltâ€™s 9.69 world record run in Beijing, where the 22-year-old eased up considerably well before the line, choosing celebration over acceleration.
â€œWhen I watched the replay, I was shocked,â€ he said, with a wide smile. â€œI canâ€™t imagine what kind of times heâ€™s capable of right now. I have to just be patient and wait and see.â€
That patience will, however, preclude letting Bolt out of his sights.
Usain is very fast,â€ he said, but â€œIâ€™m not going to put him out of my reach. Two years ago I said I wanted to run 9.65. But based upon what Usain is running, now I want to go under 9.6.â€
Powell said that outings at the Memorial Van Damme in Brussels on Friday and at the World Athletics Final in Stuttgart the following weekend are still on his agenda, but those appearances wonâ€™t be the end of his season.
â€œProbably a couple more after that,â€ he said. â€œBecause thatâ€™s what Iâ€™m good at.â€
Published with permission from Bob Ramsak.