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Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Powell equals 100-meter world record

GATESHEAD, England (AP) Asafa Powell has a message for Justin Gatlin.

"That's how you run a world record," Powell said after he ran 9.77 seconds in the 100 meters at the British Grand Prix on Sunday, equaling the world record he holds with Gatlin.

The Jamaican originally ran 9.77 in June 2005 in Athens. Gatlin tied Powell's record in Qatar on May 12 after his initial mark of 9.76 was changed five days later because of a timing mistake.

Michael Frater of Jamaica finished second in 10.06. Dwain Chambers of Britain, in his first race since his two-year ban for the drug THG ended last November, finished third in 10.07.

Powell had guaranteed victory at the British Grand Prix and wasn't threatened. He burst out of the blocks, and there wasn't a runner within two strides of him after 20 meters.

"As I said, I can run as fast as I want, when I want. I told them I would do my best here, and I didn't let them down," Powell said.

Gatlin withdrew from the Gateshead meet last weekend after his agent, Renaldo Nehemiah, said there wasn't a contract for the Olympic champion to run against Powell.

The co-world record-holders will race in the 100 at the London Grand Prix on July 28.

The two were last on the same track in Eugene, Ore., at the Prefontaine Classic on May 28 but ran in separate heats. Gatlin won his race in 9.88 and Powell won his in a wind-aided 9.93.

Both maintain that no more than two races between the two should be expected.

The last head-to-head meeting came at Crystal Palace last July, the same track they are expected to meet at for the first time since they tied the record.

While the American ran a smooth race on that occasion to clock the fastest 100 ever in Britain, the Jamaican stopped about 20 meters out of the blocks, clutching his upper right leg and falling to the track. The groin injury kept Powell out for nearly a year.

"I'm not disappointed at not breaking the world record -- it's still early season," he said. "If I get the right conditions, I can go 9.70."

Powell suggested a 9.60 is a possibility this year.

"I don't know what (the new record) is going to be, but it's going to be a lot faster than (9.70). This year I'm feeling a lot stronger, and that means I'm faster, so there's no doubting it."

With a slight wind-tail, Powell had a big lead through the stretch, all but certain to smash Chambers' track record of 10.05, set on June 27, 1999. By the time he flew over the finish, the crowd of 8,500 were on their feet.

"I made it look easy, but that's how I run," he said. "I came out and proved I can run 9.77 seconds again."

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