Powell foresees 9.5-second 100 meters


STUTTGART, Germany — Asafa Powell forecast on Friday the 100 meters world record could be cut to as low as 9.5 seconds in 2009. Powell, speaking ahead of this weekend’s world athletics final, has seen his previous world record of 9.74 lowered twice this year by fellow Jamaican Usain Bolt, who ran 9.69 to take the Olympic title, with Powell well back in fifth. Bolt has already ended his season and will not be racing in Stuttgart, but Powell believes the event is not only about his younger rival. “Wherever Usain takes (the record), I’ll be there right with him,” he said.

“When I ran 9.74 I thought my limit would be 9.69. Then when Usain ran 9.69 after stopping 20 meters before the finish, it’s obviously possible to go even faster. I think 9.6 is possible. I think next year you’ll see 9.5.”

Powell, who has won the past three editions of the world athletics final, has displayed strong late season form, running 9.83 or faster four times in the past 10 days, including a personal best of 9.72. An extra incentive is a US$100,000 bonus for a world record, offered on top of the US$30,000 first place prize. In all, 21 Olympic champions are on show this weekend, lured by a total prize purse of US$3 million. Among the most eagerly-awaited duels will be the men’s 400 meters which features Olympic champion LaShawn Merritt against the man he succeeded, Jeremy Wariner.

The women’s 400 sees a re-match between Olympic champion Christine Ohuruogu of Britain and American Sanya Richards who will be chasing a fourth straight world athletics final title. The women’s 100m hurdles also stages a re-match between Olympic champion Dawn Harper and the year’s fastest, Lolo Jones. Jones was a strong pre-Olympic favorite, but ruined her chance when she hit the penultimate hurdle in the final, finishing seventh.