Gatlin, Powell finally set meeting
7 June 2006
The world's fastest men will finally face each other on the track.
Co-world record-holders Justin Gatlin and Asafa Powell will race in the 100 metres at the London Grand Prix on July 28.
The two were scheduled to race at the British Grand Prix in Gateshead, England on Sunday. But Gatlin's agent, Renaldo Nehemiah, pulled him out of the meet, saying there never was a contract for the Olympic champion to run against Powell.
Gatlin tied Powell's mark of 9.77 seconds in Qatar on May 12. The American initially posted a world record mark of 9.76, but it was changed five days later because of a timing mistake.
Jamaica's Powell set the mark in June 2005 in Athens, Greece.
Powell said before the announcement that he was looking forward to the head-to-head meeting.
Last year at the London Grand Prix, Powell pulled up with a groin injury while Gatlin won the race in 9.89.
"It's good for the sport and people are anticipating our meeting," Powell said from London.
"It's like a boxing match - people need to see us go up against each other, and it's good for us and the other athletes because it draws a lot more people.
"London is a very good track and I want to achieve something special there."
The two were actually on the same track in Eugene, Oregon at the Prefontaine Classic on May 28 but they ran in separate heats.
Gatlin won his race in 9.88, tying the meet and Hayward Field record. Powell won a separate 100 race in a wind-aided 9.93. Powell doesn't want to race Gatlin more than twice to maintain excitement about their head-to-head meetings.
"Neither of us wants to share the world record and I believe at some stage this year because of our rivalry, it will be broken," he said.
Powell said he had his "suspicions" about Gatlin's 9.76 in Qatar.
"Normally people don't manually adjust times - whether it's 9.76 or 9.77. But I don't want to make any bad comments about people, so I don't want to get into that," Powell said.
Even with the absence of his rival this weekend at Gateshead, Powell wants to keep the pace he has set this season.
He won the 100 in 9.98 at the Bislett Games in Norway last week.
"The plan is to win all my races," Powell said.
"Last year, I didn't really get to finish the season as well as I wanted to. But this year, I'm back and I started winning in Oslo and now I just want to continue the winning streak."
Powell's best time this year was the 9.95 he ran at the Melbourne Commonwealth Games. Though he hasn't been as fast as Gatlin this year, Powell has consistently won against world-class opposition.