Jamaican Powell sets men's 100m world record
Jamaica's Asafa Powell set a new 100 meters world record Tuesday after clocking a time of 9.77 seconds at the Olympic Stadium in Athens.
On a warm summer's night on one of the fastest tracks in the world, the 22-year-old beat Tim Montgomery's previous record of 9.78 set in Paris in September 2002 to become the fastest man ever over the distance.
Powell earlier this week had said he would take a shot at the record during the Athens super grand prix at the stadium which hosted Summer Olympics last year and where American Maurice Greene also set a new 100 meters mark in 1999.
"This goes to show that the no one knows how fast a man can run," a smiling Powell told reporters. "I am just happy to have set the record on a track where Maurice Greene also broke the world record.
"I knew I could break the world record and I am very happy that I succeeded."
Asked whether he could run even faster, Powell smiled.
"If you ask what I can do more this year, you will have to wait until the end of this year's season to see," he said.
American Greene's mark of 9.79 seconds survived for three years until Montgomery beat it at the grand prix final in the French capital.
"I congratulate him on the record but I was shocked he broke it so early in the season," Montgomery told his agent Charles Wells Tuesday.
In front of a sparse crowd in the Greek capital Tuesday, Powell showed he was in fine form during his semi-final when he clocked 9.98 seconds despite easing up in the last few meters.
In the final, he got off to a good start and powered past his opponents to finish three meters ahead of Aziz Zakari from Ghana, who was second in 9.99 seconds and Jamaican Michael Frater, who was third. The wind speed of plus 1.6 meters per second was within the legal limit.
Tuesday's record made up in part for Powell's disappointment at finishing fifth in a 100 meters final he was favorite to win at last year's Olympics.
He had already set the fastest two times over the distance this year at 9.84 and 9.85 seconds.
The small crowd of a few thousand in the vast stadium almost saw a second world record being broken but Qatar's Saif Shaheen, formerly known as Stephen Cherono when he ran for his native Kenya, narrowly missed out in the 3000 meters steeplechase.
Shaheen came close to breaking his own mark with a formidable performance, clocking the season's best time of 7:57.28, less than four seconds off his own record.
He took a commanding lead early in the race and 500 meters from the finish line looked set to break the record.
"Amazing race," said Shaheen. "I was very fast at the start and I could have broken the world record but I slowed down since the others didn't follow."
Olympic champion Stefan Holm of Sweden managed only second in the men's high jump event with 2.32 meters behind Czech Jaroslav Baba, who equalled Holm's jump but had a better record of successful tries.
Jamaican Sherone Simpson edged past Ukraine's former world champion Zhanna Block to win the women's 100 meters in 11.15 seconds.
Bulgarian Ivet Lalova, who shares the season's second best time with Simpson, injured her knee during her warm-up and was taken to hospital for further test, organizers said.
Australian Jana Pittman was in a class of her own, running the 400 meters hurdles in 53.44 seconds, the best time in the world this season.