SPORTS

Fast track in Athens helped, Powell says

Jamaica’s Asafa Powell credited his new 100 meter world record in part to the fast track at Greece’s Olympic Stadium, which many now believe boasts ideal conditions for breaking records. Powell ran 9.77 seconds in the Tsiklitiria IAAF Super Grand Prix on Tuesday to eclipse the old time of 9.78 set by Tim Montgomery in Paris in 2002. The 22-year-old, who failed to live up to his reputation at the Olympics last year by finishing fifth in the final, attributed part of his success to the «really fast track» in Athens. Six years ago almost to the day, it was the site of American Maurice Greene’s 9.79-second 100-meter race. That record stood for more than three years. And seven of 23 fastest times in the men’s 100 meters have been clocked in the Greek capital. At the 2004 Olympics, the top five sprinters ran the 100m in less than 9.95 seconds. Athens, as a result, is setting a tradition in the manner of Zurich, believes Greek athletics federation (SEGAS) senior trainer Dimitris Evangelopoulos. «In the old days, we used to say that all records were broken in Zurich,» said Evangelopoulos. «The Athens Olympic Stadium definitely raises expectations. Psychologically, when athletes know that a world record has been broken here, it gives them a sentimental charge,» he said. Evangelopoulos also believes the Greek capital’s weather conditions – ideal on Tuesday – have a part to play. He noted that Montgomery had a positive wind of 2.0 meters per second at his back when he improved on Greene’s record in Paris in 2002. On Tuesday night, Powell raced with a positive wind of 1.6. Grand Prix bonuses can also encourage athletes to give a little extra. «I suspect that in total, the reward from (Tuesday) is around 100,000 euros,» he said. And given the form Powell is in, another record is not far off, argued the veteran trainer. «I predict that he will set another record soon. Maybe even before the World Championships in Helsinki in August,» he said. «I would like the Athens record to stand, but I worry.» (AFP)