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JAMAICA - Commonwealth Games in Melbourne - March 2006
Jamaica's world champion Asafa Powell (rear) and Jamaica's Sheri-Anne Brooks celebrate together with their national flag after they both won gold in their respective 100 metre finals at the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne.
Compliments of the Nation News by BARRY ALLEYNEin Melbourne
For 79 000 fans who crammed into "the G" on a night dubbed "Magnificent Monday" it turned out to be quite an anticlimax.
But don't tell that to Asafa Powell.
The 23-year-old Jamaican finally put something beside his name other than an asterisk, winning the marquee 100-metre sprint at this 18th Commonwealth Games last night.
Powell had placed a disappointed fifth at the 2004 Olympics, then injury forced him to miss last year's World Championships, so apart from his blazing 9.77 second world-best, the muscular Jamaican was still without a gold medal at a major world track and field meet.
But that all ended on a clear, chilly night in Melbourne, as Powell was a cut above the other seven finalists, shutting down his engine with 12 metres left, easily winning the gold at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
Faster than any other athlete in the world over the past 18 months, it was clear Powell had no intentions of attempting to better his 9.77 seconds world record, finishing in 10.03 seconds, the fastest time ever in Melbourne, but only equal to his semi-final time an hour earlier.
In second spot was Nigeria's Soji Fasuba, who was timed at 10.11 seconds, ahead of Trinidad's Marc Burns in 10.17, who through the rounds had actually looked to be Powell's biggest challenge, but was up-ended by a slow start in the final and had to settle for bronze.
"I just wanted to get it over with," Powell said between breaths after taking a victory lap with the Jamaican flag draped across his shoulders.
Powell's win actually completed a double for his country, as ten minutes earlier, teammate Sheri-Ann Brooks easily won the women's equivalent in a personal best time of 11.19 seconds. South Africa's Geraldine Pillay took silver in 11.31 seconds, and Delphine Atangana of Cameroon the bronze in 11.39 seconds.
"I'm also very happy for Sheri, and for Jamaica," Powell added.
The new Commonwealth Games champ made a promise though, to attempt breaking his world record sometime in 2006. "This is my first real competition for the year, so further down in the season I'll try to break the record." Powell did flirt with danger in his semi-final heat, crossing over from Lane 6 into Lane 5 momentarily while looking at the clock as he cruised home, but he wasn't disqualified,
Compliments of the Nation News
Jamaicans won the men's and women's 4x100 metres relays on to go with the 100 and 200 golds and the hurdles to become the first team to win all the sprint titles at a major championship since a Carl Lewis-led United States team at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles.
"We just wanted to get (the baton) to Asafa," Chris Williams, who won the 200 bronze, said.
Powell ran fluently in Melbourne to dispel any concerns about the groin injury that had kept him off the track since last July, a month after he set the new world mark of 9.77.
"I feel really good that I got through. It's early in the season, I'm really fresh on the track," Powell said.
Sheri-Ann Brooks, winner of the women's 100, ran a strong second leg, and 200 champion Sherone Simpson stormed home for favourites Jamaica to win the women's relay in 43.10 ahead of England and Australia.
The Caribbean powerhouses ended the Games with 22 medals
– ten gold, four silver and eight bronze. (Reuters)
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