Give Asafa a ticket to Moscow

Give Asafa a ticket to Moscow


with Earl Bailey

Sunday, July 07, 2013

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Powell would be handy in Moscow, wouldn't he?

In the world of sprinting owned by Usain Bolt, 9.88 is not eye-popping. That time cannot win a medal these days unless they are running against Hurricane Sandy. But when Asafa Powell powered in behind Tyson Gay in Lausanne last Thursday, his fans jumped like it was Moscow and he was in front.

Fact is, Asafa muffed his chance at another medal at the National Championships last month. A little more grit in the final and he would be in with a chance to fight for another big bronze. He finished seventh and out of the money. Of course the argument that he should be handed a place on the team is being proffered. Clearly, whoever thinks that he should replace Nickel Ashmeade or Kemar Bailey-Cole should see a brain surgeon or at the very least, get a CAT scan. We saw similar sentiments coming from VCB's fans in 2008 when she finished fourth in the 100m. Shelly-Ann Fraser was shouted down and touted as the preferred sacrificial lamb. Look at her now.

There is precedence. In the 2000 Sydney Olympics, Merlene Ottey, who finished out of the top three at the trials, replaced Peta-Gay Dowdie, but the youngster was obviously injured and unable to defend her position. An embarrassing demonstration by ignorant athletes followed and the talented Dowdie did not live down the apparent deception. She was never the same on the track. The JAAA would not do this again and have signalled same by tightening their selection policies.

Shocking thing is, I think Asafa should be on this team to Moscow. Not to run in the 100m, but to anchor a weakened 4x100m relay team against a hungry and dangerous USA quartet. The rather enigmatic character may rub some fans the wrong way when he participates in the individual event, but never disappoints in the relays.

The core of Jamaica's relay success in male sprinting has been decimated by injuries this year. "Mr Reliable" Michael Frater is not around and "The Beast" Yohan Blake is questionable at best. Even if he runs, he might not be beastly. Lead-off man Nesta Carter is still steady and Bolt will be Bolt come Moscow. Are Ashmeade and Bailey-Cole ready to replace these stalwarts? They might well be. However, with Powell rounding into form and hence much faster than these two, why leave him to watch the games on TV?

The Americans are champing at the bit. Tyson Gay (9.75), Justin Gatlin (9.89), Charles Silmon (9.98) and Michael Rodgers (9.98) are the likely starters. However, they will have all their eight finalists there to choose from along with 200m runners Isaiah Young (19.86) and Curtis Mitchell (19.99).

Instead of taking just six sprinters for the relays, the JAAA should take all eight finalists. Injuries are a part of the sport (especially in the sprints) and with experience now limited, it would be penny wise and pound foolish to leave your most experienced (and second fastest) man home. Both Bolt and Ashmeade will have to run six races before the start of the relays, so fast, fresh legs would be invaluable. And with six runners possible (two replacements), at least one, maybe both could be used in the heats and therefore get a medal.

I think Jamaica has reached the position, certainly with Bolt still around, where we expect to win the men's sprint relay. Every effort should be made to ensure that the team is given every chance to continue its domination. Asafa Powell's presence in Moscow would be a strong statement of intent, and a confidence booster to the team and the fans. Your call, Mr President.

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