Asafa Powell is capable of being a threat in the upcoming qualifying meet and if he makes the Olympic Games this year he could even emerge victorious. His confidence keeps getting higher and higher and he is that fast in his specialty.
In one of many highlights of the first United States Open Track & Field Meet, Powell, who holds numerous titles and records, just nipped Nesta Carter, also of Jamaica, in 5.64 in a field of six entrants for the 50-meter dash. Then at the conclusion of the competition he was named outstanding athlete of the meet, conducted by USA Track and Field. Carter was recorded in 5.67 seconds.
In making his initial indoor appearance in New York, Powell ran more sub 10-second 100-meter dashes than anyone in history. Whether it be indoors or outdoors, and regardless of the sprint distance, Asafa remains as one of the top runners in the world.
It was certainly proven last Friday evening when Asafa’s victory in the 50 meters just missed the American indoor record of 5.56 set by Maurice Greene in 1999 and the world indoor mark of 5.56 set by Donovan Bailey in 1996.
“The 50 meters is still new to me,” said Asafa, “I’m working on it (getting my time down),
“What I have to work on most is running the last part of a race..And I have to get out further in front.”
Asafa, at one time considered as one of the fastest humans in the world is not doing any speed workouts in his training. His most comfortable distance is the 100 meters.
Meanwhile, Nesta Carter, also of Jamaica, got out very well and fast, and tried in vain for the win, but fell short.
“I got out fast feeling pretty good at this distance,” said Carter, who began his career while attending Central Jamaica’s Manhasset High, where he blossomed out as an outstanding athlete. He has since progressed tremendously.
All the competitors in the men’s sprint will be looking to have great seasons. And so will Bernard Lagat.
However, all eyes were focused on Bernard Lagat, who is very familiar with the Madison Square Garden track, for he raced numerous times in this venue. He has memories after memories about the Garden track.
He calls Madison Square Garden a fun place to have a race or meet and the track is very challenging, as well. He had taken eight-mile races at the Garden where he had a great deal of success and is well liked with the fans.
Lagat, who has a personal best indoor mile record time of 3:48.89, didn’t run into it this time around. The favorite and now representing the United States was among the 5,000 fans who went back home after the meet feeling a little disappointed.
Last week, the American indoor record holder for the mile finished second in 4:00.92 to Silas Kplagat who turned in a 4:00.65 clocking to become the new New York champion for the mile. Silas, representing Kenya, proved to be a little too much for Lagat to handle in a field of five finishers.
“I took off at the gun lap,” said Silas. “This win was a big win for me.”
Anybody who competes and especially wins at Madison Square Garden has a tremendous feeling. It seems to be the place to be and it is where all the great miles have been contested. This is the place where the top athlete, even the high school ones, want to eventually run.
“When I first got out I felt a bit slow,” Silas said. “I made my move at the curve.”
“He (Silas) adjusted right at the curve,” said Lagat, who expects to be back next year again in the same race. “It is great to run in the Garden. Now I’m getting ready for the longer 5,000 meters.
And then there was Renny Quow of Trinidad, who in his specialty excelled but did not set any records.
Quow just held off Bershawn Jackson 1:11.20 to 1:11.31 at the tape and for the victory in the 600-yard run in an exciting race, especially toward the end.
“It was a great race for me as I relied on my kick at the end,” said Quow. “It felt good in winning here. I can’t complain. I’m pleased with my effort.”
On the female side, Fantu Magiso easily defeated Ajee Wilson for the 800-meter title in 2:07.54 and Veronica Campbell-Brown of Jamaica, a three-time Olympian Gold Medalist, took the 50-meter sprint in 6.08.
“The win is a step in the right direction,” Campbell-Brown said. “This race is in preparation for what’s coming.”
Every one was pleased with their effort and hopes to return next year, even if it isn’t an Olympic one, for another attempt in the second annual US Open Track & Field Meet. For a first time meet it was an extreme success. But the attendance could have been better.