Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Asafa Powell - The Fastest Runner in the World

On June 14, 2005 Jamaican sprinter Asafa Powell sped away with the world 100-meter record at the Super Grand Prix in Athens, Greece, clocking in at a blistering 9.77 seconds – one-hundredth of a second off the previous 100-meter record. That day, Asafa Powell officially became the fastest man in the world.

What does it take to accomplish this feat? It takes guts, determination, a strict training regimen, and the support of family and friends. Asafa also has a pleasant “nice-guy” attitude – on the track and off – unlike many of today’s cocky, brash sprinters. He also has a tremendous belief in himself – and an even greater belief in God.

Asafa was born on November 11, 1982. His humble beginnings in the quiet, rural settlement of Linstead, St. Catherine, Jamaica, were a precursor to his amazing achievements on the track. Growing up, Asafa was the product of a strict upbringing. His parents, the Reverends William and Cislyn Powell, didn’t allow their children to go to dances and shows. Discipline wasn’t an occasional thing – it happened every day, and it helped shape Asafa and his five older brothers.

While attending Charlemount High School, Asafa virtually ran past fellow runners in 100-, 200-, and 400-meter races. “My teacher, Mrs. Frazier, told me I could be a runner,” says Asafa. “Before that, I thought you could only be a footballer. The only thing I knew about running was that I could beat everyone – even the bigger boys.” While in high school, Asafa wrote his goal in his yearbook: To break the world record.

Out of respect for his parents, Asafa chose to attend a university in nearby Kingston, Jamaica – turning down offers from American universities. He lives and trains there, attending church every week, and staying in close contact with his parents, as well as surviving brothers Donovan (a former Olympian, Asafa’s role model and manager), Nigel, and Ricardo.

In May 2005 at the Jamaica International Invitational, he clocked 9.84 seconds – at the time, the fastest time in the world that year. A month later, he delivered a similar performance in the Czech Republic, with a time of 9.85 seconds. On June 14, 2005, Asafa broke the world record, running 100 meters in just 9.77 seconds – in the very stadium in Athens where he finished a disappointing fifth in the 2004 Olympics.

After he broke the world record, there were no crowd-pleasing antics or boasting. The polite, shy, deeply religious young man merely laughed and smiled – even during the few minutes it took for his world record time to be confirmed on the scoreboard.

“When I run, I don't think about my competition,” says the world record holder. “I just do what I have to do.”

The name “Asafa” means “rising to the occasion”. How appropriate. He will be 25 years old in 2008, so he is expected to perform well at the Beijing Olympic Games in 2008.

Visit Jamaica and learn more about our sprint factory

See you in Jamaica.


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