Athletics: Sprint king Powell set for Palace date

Asafa Powell, the newly established 100 metres world record holder, will almost certainly prepare for this summer's World Championships with a run at Crystal Palace.

Asafa Powell, the newly established 100 metres world record holder, will almost certainly prepare for this summer's World Championships with a run at Crystal Palace.

The 22-year-old Jamaican, who ran 9.77sec in Athens on Tuesday night to trim 0.01sec off the three-year-old mark set by Tim Montgomery of the United States, is a priority target for organisers of the Norwich Union London Grand Prix on 22 July. A spokesman for promoters FastTrack said yesterday that he was "absolutely confident" that Powell would return to the venue where he defeated reigning Olympic champion Maurice Greene last year on the eve of the Athens Games.

"The guy will be devastated if he can't run at Crystal Palace, and we couldn't be without him," the spokesman said.

Clearly the appearance fee will have escalated after Powell's achievement in the Greek capital, but the promoters are drawing some of their confidence from the fact that they have good relations with the Jamaican's agent, Paul Doyle.

Powell's victory last year over a field which included the bulk of his main rivals established him as Olympic favourite in many people's eyes, but he was unable to deliver at the Games, where he only managed fifth place as the title went to Justin Gatlin of the United States.

The 100m field at Crystal Palace already contains Greene and the reigning world champion, Kim Collins of St Kitts and Nevis. Britain's leading sprinters, including Mark Lewis Francis and Jason Gardener, are also expected to race.

Although Powell's flourish in the Olympic stadium in Athens came 10 months too late as far as he was concerned it has established him as the sport's fastest man. Last season he equalled the record of nine sub-10sec times, and in May he topped this year's world rankings with a time of 9.84sec in Kingston before producing 9.85sec in Ostrava, less than a week before Athens.

In the aftermath of his record run, where he had a following wind of 1.6 metres per second, well inside the legal limit of 2mps, he was asked about the prospect of running 9.6sec. "Who knows how fast I can run?" he said. "I don't know whether that's possible - but I know I can run faster."

It was a less memorable night for Gardener, who finished last in 10.29sec after suffering with cramp, and for Lewis-Francis, who failed to progress from the heats after running 10.36sec.

Both will now travel to Florence, where they will represent Britain's men in the European Cup. The team suffered a loss yesterday when James McIlroy had to drop out of the 800m because of illness.

Meanwhile Dean Macey, who took fourth in last year's Olympic decathlon, has announced that a knee injury will prevent him from taking part in this year's World Championships in Helsinki. It is an all-too-familiar story for the 27-year-old, who won silver at the 1999 World Championships.

Macey is still unable to run following an operation on his knee after the Athens Games. "If I had gone to the Worlds I couldn't guarantee I would finish, so now my priority is to win Commonwealth gold next year," Macey said yesterday.

l The Greek sprinter Konstadinos Kederis told a magistrate yesterday he was innocent of charges that he deliberately missed a doping test and staged a motorcycle accident to avoid being tested. Kederis, Ekaterina Thanou and the coach Christos Tzekos face charges of avoiding three doping tests and faking a crash that put the athletes in hospital for four days.

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