SPORTS

Asafa Powell breaks 100-meter world record at Athens meeting

Asafa Powell set a world record in the 100 meters yesterday, clocking 9.77 seconds at the Tsiklitiria Super Grand Prix meeting in Athens. The Jamaican shaved a 100th of a second off Tim Montgomery’s mark of 9.78, which was set in Paris in 2002. «I’m very happy that… I achieved this performance,» Powell said. «I knew I could break the world record and I am very happy I succeeded.» Aziz Frater of Ghana finished second in 9.99 at Athens’s Olympics stadium, and Francis Obikwelu of Jamaica took third in 10.03. The world-class field also included the UK’s Jason Gardener. This was the first major sporting event in Athens since the August 13-29, 2004 Olympics. The 22-year-old Powell had already set the world’s fastest time this year with a 9.84-second sprint at the Jamaica International Invitational on May 8. He also ran a 9.85 on June 9 in the Czech Republic. Before Montgomery, Maurice Greene was the record holder. He ran 9.79 seconds in 1999 at the same venue in Athens to break a three-year-old record. «It’s amazing that after Maurice Greene, I also achieved a world record in this stadium,» Powell said. «If you ask me what I can do more this year, you will just have to wait until the end of this year’s season to see.» Montgomery’s record had already been at risk because he faces doping charges. The American has never tested positive for a banned substance, but the US Anti-Doping Agency is seeking to ban him from competition based on secret documents the US Senate obtained last year from the BALCO drugs investigation. Powell is only the fourth non-American to hold the 100m world record since 1912. Donovan Bailey of Canada (1996), Armin Hary of West Germany (1960) and Percy Williams of Canada (1930) are the others. In the women’s 100m, Jamaica’s Sherone Simpson won in 11.15, beating Zhana Block in 11.19. Greece’s Georgia Kokloni finished third in 11.33. Arend Watkins of the USA won the men’s 110 hurdles in 13.23, easily outrunning Sergey Demidyuk of Ukraine and Duane Ross of the United States. «I’m very satisfied that I won in a really fast race,» Watkins said. «Last night I was so anxious I couldn’t sleep.» Australian world champion Jana Pittman won the women’s 400m hurdles in 53.44. In the men’s race, Periklis Iakovakis narrowly lost to Louis van Zyl, who finished in 48.16 seconds. «It was very good training for the world championships in Helsinki,» Pittman said.