Olympian Asafa Powell (right) is greeted by Sagicor Group Jamaica President and CEO Chris Zacca on his arrival at the Jamaica Observer for last Thursday's Observer Press Club at which this year's Sagicor Sigma Corporate Run was discussed.(Photo: Karl Mclarty)

Olympian Asafa Powell says he is aware that he is a role model for many upcoming junior athletes, and acts accordingly.

Powell is one of two patrons named for this year's Sagicor Sigma Corporate Run which is scheduled to take place on the streets of New Kingston and Half-Way-Tree on February 12. The other is his former national teammate and Olympian Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce.

Powell, who officially retired from sprinting last year, is still a popular public figure, having moved on to podcasting and content creation for his YouTube channels. He says although he is now known for things such as his automotive lifestyle, it is important to remind youngsters how important it is to have a healthy sporting lifestyle, a reason he became a patron for the SIGMA Run.

"That's why I try to stay fit, you know, and keep the abs," Powell told journalists during the Jamaica Observer Press Club last Thursday. "From day one, I've always tried to keep myself as a good role model for the kids coming up. I'm now retired but I like to act like I'm still an athlete. This is a job for us and not every kid will have the chance to have that great education to just be privileged to jump on something like that."

Powell said that sports are crucial for young Jamaicans, especially as there are numerous negative distractions that can lead them down a path to antisocial behaviour.

"Where they might have the talent for sport, this is a great opportunity for the young kids to make a life to get away from crime and violence and to get away from idleness," he said. "This is where my lifestyle and all that stuff comes in. I try to show them that you can have a good life through track and field. You can go places, meet people, sit in rooms like this with Sagicor supporting Jamaica in general."

Sagicor has branded this year's race as the "Legacy Run" to celebrate its 25th anniversary. Sagicor expects more than 26,000 participants and is aiming to raise over $75 million for the University Hospital of the West Indies' Paediatric Unit, and the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts.

Registration, which costs $2,000 for each member of corporate teams competing, and $2,500 for individual entries, closes on Friday.

BY RACHID PARCHMENT Digital sports coordinator parchmentr@jamaicaobserver.com

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