FORMER 100-metre world record-holder Asafa Powell says the move by presidential candidates of the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA) to establish a fund geared towards athletes' welfare is long in coming.
Incumbent president Dr Warren Blake, as well as challengers Lincoln Eatmon and Grace Jackson, have placed the welfare of athletes high on the agenda in their bid for the top post.
Powell, as well as MVP club teammate Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, have made calls for such a fund in recent times, while it is an issue often on the lips of athletes.
"That should have been in place from ever since, but in everything most people only think about themselves and not the athlete. The JAAA should have been about the athletes from day one," Powell told the Jamaica Observer in an interview yesterday.
"It's time for a change and for them to really focus on the athletes. Jamaica is the number-one country in the world in track and field and I think we should get number-one treatment."
He is aware of the need for support as he has often needed medical intervention in the past, having suffered from a recurrent hamstring injury.
Powell said he will be throwing his full support behind MVP training partner Michael Frater for the post of third vice-president at next Thursday's annual general meeting.
Frater, the 2005 world 100m silver medallist, is running on Blake's slate and told the Observer last week he supports the orthopaedic surgeon's initiative to start an athletes' welfare commission, which propelled his decision to support his candidacy.
He has, however, drawn heat in his University of Technology (UTech)-based camp and there is word that should both he and Dr Blake be elected, he might find himself without a training base.
"The only thing I'm concerned about right now is my teammate," Powell told the Observer. "He is going in it and he is going well. We need someone young and smart and someone who is in the game and has been through all the struggles.
"I think that's what we were lacking. No one was there who knows the pain of the athletes. Michael... is someone who will support the athletes' welfare."
As for the issue of slates, Powell said: "Most of it is individual stuff so I vote for Michael himself."
The 2009 world 100m bronze medallist who turns 30 today pulled up during the final at the Olympic Games in London. And while there was talk of him going to Europe for surgery, Powell said that was not the case.
"Where the injury is surgery can't be done there, so I just have to keep strengthening; put a lot more effort into keeping the leg stronger than ever before," he said.
He said the injury has not hampering his preparation for next season with the World Championships scheduled for Moscow in August.
"So far it hasn't been affecting me. I think the rest that I got after the Olympic Games helped with the healing process. I needed rest... that's the longest I've ever rested since I started training. I've had two months of rest and now I'm back into training and trying to get the leg back to 100 per cent."
He told the Observer he doesn't feel a day older than 19.
"I still feel like I'm 19. In my head I'm still 19, but the reality, I'm 30. It's a good feeling growing, you can't be young forever, you have to grow up, be a man and face reality."
He said his age, one in which athletes start looking towards retirement, does not intimidate him.
"In any case, you have to work very hard. You have to work harder than before to make sure that you take every year as if it's an Olympic or World Championship year, so you have to put in the work no matter who you are, no matter where you are, no matter how old you are," he asserted.
Powell was presented a gift of a Samsung Galaxy mobile phone — the only all-black model in the island and worth US$800,00 -- in a special ceremony at the Carlton Crescent headquarters of his corporate sponsors, LIME.