BIRMINGHAM, England - Jamaican team officials here are expecting 100m sprinter Asafa Powell to arrive in camp today at the University of Birmingham as preparations reach fever pitch for the start of the London Olympics later this week.
Up to last night UK time, Powell, who was third in the men’s 100m at the Jamaica National Trials last month behind Yohan Blake and Usain Bolt, was the only one of the 47 track and field athletes who had not turned up, more than a week into what was termed a mandatory camp for all athletes.
Donald Quarrie, technical leader of the Jamaican team here, had confirmed with the Observer that all athletes were accounted for except Powell who he said was expected in today.
“I spoke to one of the MVP athletes today and they told me Asafa would be in Tuesday so we are looking out for him then,” Quarrie said.
Team manager Ludlow Watts had told Jamaican journalists on Sunday that they expected that all athletes would be in camp by Monday evening but when pressed about what the consequences would be if anyone was not there, Watts said, “we will cross that bridge when we get there”, but stressed that he would be “surprised” if everyone was not in camp.
Quarrie would not be drawn in on any possible consequences but said his main concern was about the athlete's heath.
“I am just hoping he is OK and nothing is wrong with him, that’s my main concern right now,” Quarrie told the Observer.
A number of athletes, including some from the powerful MVP camp, arrived over the weekend and were seen among the numbers that were at a welcome dinner put on by Jamaica National and the University of Birmingham in the great hall of the Aston Webb building yesterday.
Neither Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Brigitte Foster-Hylton nor Sherone Simpson were among them, however, while Usain Bolt and Yohan Blake had been whisked away inside the main building shortly after arriving with their teammates.
The team managers will peel away the several layers of the camp today and throw open the doors to accredited media houses for the ‘media day’, but won’t allow any individual interviews with the athletes.
Watts had described the present camp as “unique” in that with so many athletics competitions going on before the start of the Olympics, athletes had been given permission to come and go and while he said it was not the perfect setting, it allowed the athletes to compete and help their preparations.
The athletes will be feted at another dinner today before a public meeting at Victoria Square in the city centre tomorrow before leaving for London and the Athletes' Village on Thursday.