By Gary Smith, World-Track
Asafa Powell has admired the way Usain Bolt quickly adopted to performing under pressure and vows to take a page out of his fellow Jamaican countryman book.
With all eyes on him in Beijing last summer, Bolt landed the Olympic Games sprint double with world record times before returning the following year to emulate the feat at the World Championships.
And he did the latter under immense pressure, as the world demanded something special — a request they received in some style.
These accomplishments opened the eyes of Powell, who in return, heaped praises on his teammate and good friend.
“Bolt really knows how to perform under pressure,” Powell said after recovering from injuries to win a bronze medal at the world championships last month. “I need to take a page out of his book.”
Powell, the former 100metres world record holder before being replaced by Bolt two seasons ago, carried the weight of his country for several seasons until the Bolt revolution.
The 27-year-old started favourite to win gold at several major titles during his remarkable time at the top, but failed to delivered on the day — evidently losing focus midway through the races.
But with the pressure off his shoulders with Bolt stepping up to share the burden, Powell says he can now relax and have fun.
This came from the two-time world bronze medallist who once questioned his ability to race on the big stages, after saying: “Who knows? Maybe I’m not the guy for those big championships but just the guy to compete in the Grand Prix and Golden League meetings. It’s just unfortunate.”
However, after watching his pre-race show and then his actual performance at the world championships in Berlin last month, it is evident that he has already learned how to deal with the global championships.
Several set backs, including an ankle problem that put him on the sidelined for six weeks prevented Powell from troubling his personal best of 9.72seconds, set last year after the Olympic Games in Beijing.
He accepted his beatings this season, which came frequently from American Tyson Gay, but said next year will definitely be a different season, once he gets back to full fitness.
And Gay himself, who complained of a sore groin during this year believes he will go even faster than his American record of 9.69secs, once he returns to good health.
The pair will, however, start has minors to Bolt, who is the Olympic and world champion and the world record holder in both the 100m and 200m sprints.