13 MAY 2011 General News Shanghai, China

“You just can’t stop” the Jamaicans – Shanghai, Samsung Diamond League

Shanghai press conference - 13 May - (l to r) moderator, Jamaica's Veronica Campbell-Brown and Asafa Powell, and China's Yi Lao and Li Yanfeng (IAAF.org)Shanghai press conference - 13 May - (l to r) moderator, Jamaica's Veronica Campbell-Brown and Asafa Powell, and China's Yi Lao and Li Yanfeng (IAAF.org) © Copyright

The question of how seriously he regards the threat from the rising generation of young Jamaican sprinters provoked Asafa Powell into giving one of his slow, broad smiles here today (13). The former World record holder intends to demonstrate in Sunday’s Dunlop Golden Grand Prix – the second of 14 scheduled Samsung Diamond League meetings – that he is more than equal to the challenge.

Despite limping home last in the 200 metres at the Jamaica International Invitational in Kingston last Sunday – a race won in a time 19.96 sec by 21-year-old Nickel Ashmeade – Powell reassured a press conference that he had slowed down as a precaution after feeling a minor injury.

And while he acknowledged that the likes of Ashmeade and his fellow 21-year-old Yohan Blake, who won the 100m in Kingston in a wind-assisted 9.80, represent the future of the sport, he made it clear that he is in the kind of form to match his opening Diamond League flourish of last year, when he produced times of 9.75 and 9.81 in Doha, albeit wind-assisted.
“I opened up very fast last year in Doha, but my coach says I’m in even better shape than I was last year, so…we’ll wait and see.

“Yohan and Nickel ran faster than expected in Kingston. Obviously guys like them, and Nesta Carter, are going to be the future of the sport. They are very young, and they are running very fast. They will be the names that people will be talking about and asking questions of.

“Jamaicans are coming up one after the other. You just can’t stop them! “
But Powell, 28, said he was “kind of confident”, adding: “I’m just looking forward to seeing what I can do.”

The injury which had hampered him in Kingston, he said, was a minor problem with his hamstring. “I didn’t want to hurt myself any more so I stopped running.”

He added that it was not the same problem which had caused him to cut his season short in July last year, namely a back injury, but said that it could be related. “It’s not 100 per cent, but it’s enough for me to run,” he said. “I’m very good now. I’m in good shape.”

Powell is scheduled to meet his fellow Jamaican Usain Bolt, the double World record holder, at the Samsung Diamond League meeting in Rome on 26 May, and again at the Paris Samsung Diamond League meeting (8 July). He is also scheduled to meet the former World champion Tyson Gay at the Birmingham and London editions of the 14-event series.

But asked about the failure so far for Gay and Bolt to schedule a meeting, he smiled once again, merely saying: “That would be a good match-up before the Worlds. But I don’t know what their schedules are like.”

Sitting alongside Powell, Jamaica’s double Olympic 200m champion Veronica Campbell-Brown confirmed that she was in good shape as she looked forward to a season in which the IAAF World Championships in Daegu, Korea (27 Aug – 4 Sep) would be her main focus.

Two days short of her 29th birthday, Campbell-Brown can look back on a career which has seen her amass one gold and five silvers at the Worlds. And her performance in Kingston, where she finished second over 200m in a wind-assisted 22.37sec – in a race won by Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce in 22.10 – offered clear promise of further gains in Daegu three months from now.

“I’m very satisfied with the way I have started the season,” she said. “The World Championships are my main focus, and I’m planning to do the 100 and 200m there. Of course if that happens I will probably be looking at the relay too. But I don’t know what the future holds. I want to go out there and do my best, and if that’s good enough to win a world title that will be great.”

Mike Rowbottom for the IAAF