Athletics: Crystal Palace hoping to stage Gatlin-Powell race

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The Independent Online

The world's two fastest men, whose scheduled meeting at Gateshead on 11 June was called off at the weekend, may yet meet on British soil, at the Norwich Union Grand Prix at Crystal Palace on 28 July.

Hours after both men had indicated they are in peak form at the Prefontaine Classic meeting in Eugene, Oregon, new hope emerged that Justin Gatlin and Asafa Powell, the joint world record holders, could reschedule the showdown that was put paid to on Saturday by Gatlin's agent, Renaldo Nehemiah.

Jon Ridgeon, managing director of promoters Fast Track, opened the door for Gatlin not only to race in London but to also face Powell. "I want to see Gatlin and Powell running against each other in London, and I am quite confident we can hold the negotiations to make it happen," Ridgeon said.

Nehemiah, who claimed that the contract his man had signed with Fast Track did not involve him running against Powell in Gateshead, gave the British promoters a more positive signal with his latest statement yesterday.

It read: "All the parties involved can ill afford to have any future misunderstandings. Thus, I maintain an open mind pertaining to a future meeting between the co-world record holders."

When the two rivals do eventually meet - and the latest rumour is that it could be in Athens on 3 July - they look like producing a memorable race, given their performances in damp conditions on Sunday. Powell won his 100m race in 9.93sec wind assisted, while Gatlin was a clear victor in the other 100m race set up by the organisers, clocking 9.88.

Gatlin maintained afterwards that he would meet Powell, but without specifying when. "I think that's what the world wants to see, but the world needs to be more patient," he said, "and it will be the best race they ever see."

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