He one of the biggest obstacles standing in the way of an individual Olympic Medal but a calmer, more experienced Asafa Powell has much to thank Jamaican teammate Usain Bolt for, as the fit again sprinter looks to make the most of what is likely to be his last Olympic Games.
Powell, who has been bothered in recent times by another groin flare-up, has been the subject of much criticism in the past for not being able to produce the goods under pressure, but the 29-year-old sprinter says he has turned the corner, thanks in part, to what he has taken from his friend Bolt.
“Before, I used to have a lot of pressure on my bands; before Usain it was only me and I felt the pressure of the entire Jamaica on me,” Powell said.
“Now I have learned from Usain to stay relaxed and not pressure myself or worry about anyone but just to do this for myself and I have been working on that and it seems to be working out,” he added.
With a positive, new outlook fuelling his desire, Powell is diving into his latest Olympic experience with renewed vigour, determined to better the two fifth-place finishes he has registered at his previous Olympic appearances in 2004 (Athens) and 2008 (Beijing).
“I’m definitely energised and really pumped for this games, I’m not getting any younger and this is probably my last one (Olympics). I’m just here to give my all,” said Powell yesterday.
Being tested further by the emergence of another Jamaican, Yohan Blake, Powell says his perspective has not been influenced by the younger Jamaican’s recent double win over Bolt at the Jamaican Olympic trials, maintaining that the result does not suggest that the outcome in London is more favourable for anyone or that it meant that Bolt is more vulnerable.
“The race is always open for anyone to win, you just have to be ready to run fast. It’s just that Usain has always been ready and always managed to stay ready,” Powell said.
“This year you have the Americans running well and us three Jamaicans who are running very fast. My coach spoke to me and told me what he is expecting this year; I am expecting a bit more but I don’t know what will happen in the final,” said Powell.
With nothing to lose and a determination to gain, Powell may very well be the one to give ‘lightning Bolt’ the shock he does not want at these London games.