Powell and Bolt neck and neck ahead of Olympics

Jamaica's Asafa Powell clocked 9.88 seconds on Tuesday at at the IAAF Grand Prix meeting's 100 metres, just 0.01 second ahead of his fellow countryman and record holder Usain Bolt. At the Jamaican selections in June, Bolt was the fastest.


Jamaica's 100 metres former world record holder Asafa Powell beat compatriot and present recordholder Usain Bolt here at the IAAF Grand Prix meeting on Tuesday.

Powell, 25, timed 9.88 seconds to just see off a late challenge by 21-year-old Bolt, who made a dreadful start and trailed his elder rival by two metres after a third of the race.

Whilst Bolt, who timed 9.72sec to break Powell's record at the end of May in New York, did make up ground on Powell he never threatened to beat him.

Bolt, who could well attempt the 100/200m double at the Olympics next month in Beijing, had easily won their first ever confrontation at the national championships in June, timing 9.85sec to Powell's 9.97sec, though the latter was returning from injury.

"My objective was simply to win," said Powell, who is the reigning Commonwealth champion but still has to undergo questions about his big race temperament.

"I got a good start and I managed to maintain my speed to the end."

Bolt for his part shrugged off the defeat.

"That doesn't change anything," said Bolt.

"Am I going to do the double in Beijing? It is my coach Glen Mills who will decide," added Bolt for the umpteenth time.

While their duel was the most eagerly anticipated event of the evening, there were other memorable moments.

Ethiopia's women's Olympic 5000m champion Meseret Defar failed by just under a second to break compatriot Tirunesh Dibaba's world record, recording a time of 14min 12.32sec.

The 24-year-old's time was even more remarkable given she ran the last 3000m on her own, whereas Dibaba was aided by her sister Ejagayehu in her recordbreaking run in Oslo in June.

Sudanese prodigy Abubaker Kaki once again showed he is a real danger to reigning 800m Olympic champion Yury Borzakovsky in Beijing as the 19-year-old recently crowned world junior champion at the distance recorded the fastest time in the world this year over 1000m, though, with the windy conditions he never threatened to break Noah Ngeny's world record.

Another Olympic gold medal challenger Cuba's 110m hurdles world record holder Dayron Robles maintained his impressive set of performances this term by easing home in 12.91sec, well ahead of US champion David Oliver.

The women's long jump also produced a season's best performance from Portugal's Naide Gomes, who produced a best of 7.04 metres and set herself up nicely for the Olympics, especially as the season's other most impressive performer Ludmila Kolchanova of Russia won't be there having failed to qualify at last weekend's Russian championships.

Gomes also saw off the challenge of home darling Carolina Kluft, who could finish only third on what was a mixed night for the hosts athletes.

Stefan Holm duly won the high jump while Olympic triple jump champion Christian Olsson made his return to competition after a year out and posted a not unrespectable effort of 17m in finishing third.

However, the 28-year-old's evening turned into a miserable one as he revealed that he had pulled a thigh muscle and would miss the Olympics.

"The Olympics are gone, the whole season is gone," he told Swedish radio, while he also hinted that he may well retire from the sport.

There were signs though that some of the best performers this year are starting to feel weary just when it was getting to the business end of the season as Croatia high jumper Blanka Vlasic highlighted.

"I have become a little tired," said Vlasic, who still won with a height of 2.02m.

"I have competed a lot these past few weeks and I need some rest," added Vlasic, who is in line for sharing the Golden League million dollar bonus with just two meets remaining in Zurich and Brussels.

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