Paris, July 3 (IANS) Jamaican sprinter Asafa Powell will seek to keep his unbeaten record intact in his first Diamond League race of the season this Saturday in Paris, with an eye set on a new 100 metres personal best in the coming events.
“My personal best is 9.72 seconds, so at my best I know I can run that. But I want to run another personal best, that’s what I’m focused on, not anyone else,” Xinhua quoted the 32-year-old as saying on Thursday.
Powell, who lowered the 100 metres world record to 9.77 seconds in 2005 and then 9.74 seconds in 2008 before being eclipsed by countryman Usain Bolt, was banned last year by a Jamaican disciplinary panel for 18 months after he tested positive in 2013 for a banned stimulant.
The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), however, later reduced the suspension to six months with Powell going on to sue the supplement company for “putting a contaminated substance in the supplement”.
“I’m very happy to be back. I’ve always been at the top with the big names. It was unfortunate for me to fall back, but now I’m back on top with the big guys.
“I don’t know how anyone else deals with a ban, but for me it was very difficult to know that it wasn’t my fault why anything happened,” he told press in the Paris city hall.
The sprinter won the 100 metres race with 9.84 seconds at Jamaica’s trials on June 26 to earn a spot at August’s World Championships in Beijing, while Bolt, who has already secured a berth to defend his 100 and 200 titles, opted to skip the national event due to injury.
“I’m in a good place now and want to focus on the positive and the future,” added Powell, a member of the Jamaican squad that won the men’s 4×100 metres relay Olympic gold medal in 2008 alongside with Bolt.
Asked about how he’s impressed by American Justin Gatlin, who had served two doping bans but made a strong comeback to claim the world best performance of the season, Powell emphasised that he’ll focus on himself rather than watching anyone else.
“Like everyone else, I was a bit surprised that he came out and beat his personal best on 9.74 seconds in his first race,” he said.
“He’s doing what he’s doing and … I just hope that he’s doing it to the best of his ability and doing it honestly,” he added. “I’m not really focused on anyone else. I just stay focused on myself.”
Powell predicted that the Beijing worlds in August would be the old against the new with the rise of some promising sprinters like American Trayvon Bromell and Canadian Andre De Grasse.
“It’s good to have the new generation coming up. It’s good for this sport. We need it for this sport,” Powell, who won two bronze medals in 100m races in 2007 and 2009 World Championships, said.
“Obviously, the old will fight.”
In Saturday night’s race at the Stade de France, Powell’s challenge could come from American Mike Rodgers who finished third at the 2015 US Outdoor Championship, along with other contenders like Nesta Carter, Kim Collins, Jimmy Vicaut and Ryan Bailey.