AFTER the latest in a series of setbacks in his career as one of the best sprinters to have never won a major title, former world record-holder Asafa Powell is picking up the pieces and striding purposely forward.
On Friday night the powerfully built sprinter, who has run under 10.00 seconds 88 times, the most ever in the recorded history of men's sprinting, finished seventh in 10.22 seconds in the 100m final at the JAAA/Supreme Ventures National Senior Championships at the National Stadium.
That time is possibly the slowest Powell has run in over a decade since he came on the scene with the Stephen Francis-coached MVP club, missing a relay pool spot by one or two places, as his teammate Nesta Carter was fourth in 10.14 seconds, while Jason Livermore was fifth in 10.18 seconds and 2010 national champion Oshane Bailey sixth in 10.20 seconds.
In the midst of the celebrations of Usain Bolt's win in a season's best 9.94 seconds ahead of Kemar Bailey-Cole's 9.98 seconds and Nickel Ashmeade's 9.99 seconds for the first three places to join defending champion Yohan Blake, who had a bye and missed the championships, there was a pause as the results board flashed Powell's name lower down in an unfamiliar position, at least here on Jamaican soil.
Powell has battled a groin injury for years and after making it to the final of the 100m at the London Olympics last year, pulled up lame as his teammates Bolt and Blake took the gold and silver. He had to watch for the second straight major championships, a Jamaican team win a gold medal in the 4x100m without him being a part of it.
After the race and while struggling to hide his disappointment, Powell to his credit, offered no excuses. "I was just not race fit to handle the rounds (this weekend)," he told reporters.
"I stumbled out of the blocks and just did not have anything in the tank," he said, before adding: "This was my first race of the season and for almost a year."
Powell also missed preparation time coming into the championships after he pulled up lame in a 100m race at one of the JAAA development meets.
"It is very frustrating to know that I did not make it to top three for Moscow," he said, "but I will just have to work hard and come back".
His mindset, which has long being questioned, he said ironically, will make the difference this time. "I have to think positive, I can't let this get me down; I must think positive and keep pushing forward," Powell told the reporters.
The key, he said, was going back to the training track and racing more. "I just need to go back to training. I have a few more races this season and just need to focus on that; I did not make it to Moscow, but I will still be competing."
Powell admitted that his injury was in the back of his mind and after "feeling a slight twinge in training on Monday", was very cautious, but he said the injury was never the problem nor his psyche. "I was just unfit today," he insisted, "and I could not execute like I should; it is not mental, just physical." He further stated that he will still go to Europe and compete later on.
The athlete, who will be 31 in November, would not comment too much on his long-term plans, however, and when asked about the next Olympics in Brazil in 2016, said: "If I am still alive and God's willing, we will see."