Birmingham, UKJamaican sprint sensation Asafa Powell looks set to turn the Birmingham athletics faithful into a new home crowd when he competes at the Aviva Grand Prix in Birmingham on 18 February 2012.
The Aviva Grand Prix is an IAAF Indoor Permit meeting.
In competing indoors in the same city that his pre-Olympic holding camp will be staged, Powell is determined to give himself a vital edge over his 100m rivals in the crucial year ahead.
The former World record holder, who will be based in Birmingham with the Jamaican team in the lead-up to the Games, has chosen the Aviva Grand Prix to hone preparations for his tilt at Olympic gold against teammate Usain Bolt in London next summer.
Twenty-nine-year-old Powell, who has not competed anywhere on the indoor circuit since 2004 and has never competed indoors in the UK, said the radical shake-up of his competition programme formed part of a bold attempt to claim his first individual Olympic medal in London in 2012.
“I’m really excited about competing indoors as I haven’t raced an indoor season in a long time,” said Powell.
“My coach and I have been speaking about the ideal preparation for next year’s Olympics and we think doing an indoor season is the best move for me. I love competing indoors and to get the opportunity to race in Birmingham is really exciting.”
“To prepare for a major championships you need to be racing against the best people in the world and I know that’s what’s in store at the Aviva Grand Prix. The calibre of athletes there has always been strong and if I'm going to be challenging for medals, I need to be racing against the best opposition all the way up until the Olympics.”
“It’s not long now until the Games so every minute counts. I’m taking that attitude into everything I do so, believe me, when I get out onto that track in Birmingham I’m determined to put on a show. Hopefully everyone’s going to see something really special.”
Powell, who has clocked more sub-10 second performances over 100m than any other athlete in history, is no stranger to the West Midlands. In July this year Powell stormed to victory in the 100m in a time of 9.91sec at the Aviva Birmingham Grand Prix, the ninth stop on the prestigious Samsung Diamond League circuit.
Powell said: “It will be great to return to Birmingham after my race in the Aviva Birmingham Grand Prix in July. I can’t quite believe this will be my first time competing indoors in the UK. I’ve competed outdoors there so many times and I actually broke the World record in the UK so I have good memories of my time there. Athletics fans in the UK are always a good crowd and really get behind the athletes so hopefully we can get a full stadium at the NIA.”
“I’ll be back in Birmingham later on next year for the Jamaican team holding camp ahead of the Olympic Games so it’ll be a good opportunity to have another look around and get familiar with the city. I’ve always felt really comfortable in Birmingham so I should be feeling really positive and ready to go when the Olympics come around.”
After being forced to sit out the summer’s Aviva London Grand Prix and the 2011 World Championships through injury, Powell will be looking for some valuable race practice ahead of next year’s Olympic Games, where he will battle for a share of the medals against countrymen Usain Bolt and Yohan Blake, and US rival Tyson Gay.
The Jamaican track stalwart, who held the honour of being the fastest man on the planet from 2005-2008, took gold in the 4x100m relay at the Beijing Games in 2008 but is yet to claim an individual Olympic medal.
Powell will be joined at the Aviva Grand Prix by a stellar line-up of domestic and international athletes to be announced over the coming weeks.
Organisers for the IAAF