Asafa Powell

Asafa Powell
C.D (born November 23, 1982) is a Jamaican sprinter who specialises in the 100 metres. He held the 100 m world recordbetween June 2005 and May 2008, with times of 9.77 and 9.74 seconds respectively. Powell has consistently broken the 10-second barrierin competition, with his personal best of 9.72 s being the fourth fastest time in the history of the event.[1]

Powell competed in the 100 m at the 2004 Athens Olympics and the 2008 Beijing Olympics but failed to convert his success to the world stage, finishing fifth both times. However, in Beijing he won a gold medal and set the world and Olympic record in the 4 × 100 metres relaywith the Jamaican team. At the 2007 Osaka World Championships he won a bronze and a silver medal in the 100 m and 4 x 100 m relay respectively and he has been successful at the Commonwealth Games, winning two gold and one silver medal. At the 2009 World Championships he won 100 m bronze and a relay gold. Powell has won five times at the IAAF World Athletics Final and is the 100 m record holder for the event.

Biography and sprinting career

Born on November 23, 1982, in Spanish TownJamaica, Asafa Powell is the youngest of six sons of two ministers.A past student of Ewarton Primary School and Charlemont High School, both in St. Catherine, Jamaica. Powell planned to be a mechanic before he took up running while studying in Kingston, Jamaica.[2][3] His eldest brother Donovan,[4] was a 60 m finalist in the 1999 World Indoor Championships.[5]Powell is a member of the MVP (Maximising Velocity and Power) Track & Field Club based at the University of Technology (U-Tech), Kingston,[6] and has been coached by Stephen Francis since 2001.


Powell represented his school Charlemont High at the ISSA High School Championships. On April 11 he finished fourth in the Class 1 200 m, in 23.07 with a -1.7 m/s headwind. On April 13, he finished third in his heat of the Boy’s Class 1 100 m, recording 11.45 with a -2.3 m/s headwind. Neither time recorded in the heats was quick enough to advance him to the next round of competition.


Powell again represented Charlemont High at the ISSA High School Boy And Girls Championships, finishing seventh in the Class 1 100 m Final. Recognizing some talent, coach Stephen Francis started coaching Powell one week later.[8] Powell vindicated Francis by winning the Boys Under-20 100 m event in 10.50 seconds at the JAAA National Championships on June 22.


At the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester Powell finished fifth in the semi-finals of the 100 m event, setting a personal best of 10.26 s.[10] Powell, along with Michael Frater,Dwight Thomas and Christopher Williams formed the Jamaican 4×100 m relay team that went on to win a silver medal. Powell finished just behind Darren Campbell in the last leg of the relay, with both men finishing in 38.62 s.


Powell won the Jamaican 100 m National Championship.[11]

Powell came to attention within the world of athletics at the 2003 World Championships, when he suffered the ignominy of being ‘the other athlete’ disqualified for a false start in the quarter-final. This was when Jon Drummond memorably refused to leave the track having suffered the same fate, both athletes moved less than 0.1 s after the gun had fired, with Powell’s reactions being timed at 0.086 s.[12][13] Six days later Powell was added to the 4×100 m relay team for the semi-final, running as the anchor. He helped the team qualify for the final, recording the second fastest time. Powell never had a chance to run for a medal in the final as the second baton exchange was not executed cleanly and the Jamaican team failed to finish.[14] During the 2003 season, Powell won two IAAF Grand Prix events, one of which was an AF Golden League event. He finished seventh in 10.23 s in the 100 m at the IAAF World Athletics Final.


On June 12 Powell recorded his first sub-10 100 m race time (9.99 s +1.8 m/s) while participating in the National Junior Track and Field Championships, held at the GC Foster College in Spanish Town.[16] Two weeks later Powell became one of the favorites for a medal in the 100 m at the 2004 Athens Olympics after winning the Jamaican National Championships with a personal best time of 9.91 s. Although he ended the season with a record-equaling nine sub-10 second runs, Powell finished just fifth in the highly competitive Olympic final, with a time of 9.94 s. Following this he pulled out of the 200 m final, even though he had already qualified eighth for it earlier on.[17] Powell did not get the chance to run for a medal in the 4×100 m relay, as the Jamaican team failed to qualify for the final, with a season best 38.71 fourth place finish in their heat.[18] Following his Olympic disappointment Powell set a new national record of 9.87 s for the 100 m at the Memorial Van Damme in Bruxelles on September 3.[19] He recorded five IAAF Grand Prix wins in 2004. In addition, he became the first man to win both the 100 m and 200 m races at the World Athletics Final in championship record time. Powell was world ranked number one for the 100 m and number four for the 200 m at the end of the season.


Powell set a new national record of 9.84 at the Jamaica International Invitational in May.[21] He gained some consolation for his Olympic performance by breaking the 100 m world recordin Athens on June 14, 2005, setting a time of 9.77 s, beating American Tim Montgomery‘s 2002 record of 9.78 s (which was later annulled due to doping charges against Montgomery) by just 0.01 s. Coincidentally, Powell achieved the feat on the same track as Maurice Greene‘s 1999 world record run of 9.79 s. Wind assistance for Powell was measured at 1.6 m/s, within the IAAF legal limit of 2.0 m/s. Powell again won the 100 m final at the Jamaican National Championships. A groin injury in July cut short his season and forced him to miss the World Championships. His season ended with just two IAAF Grand Prix event wins. Despite his shortened season, Powell had the three fastest 100 m times of the year, received the Caribbean And Central American (CAC) Male Athlete of the Year award,[22] and ranked second in the world.


2006 was Powell’s most successful season. He won the 2006 Commonwealth Games 100 metres race after a drama-filled semi-final which saw two disqualifications and three false starts. Powell himself ran into another competitor’s lane while looking at the scoreboard, however he was held not to have impeded the runner. He also anchored the 4×100 m relay team, and finished the Commonwealth Games with two gold medals. In May he won the 100 m at the Jamaica International Invitational in 9.95.[23] In addition to winning the 200 m at the Jamaican National Championships in June, he won ten 100 m IAAF Grand Prix events, including all six Golden League events.

Powell then equaled his world record time on June 11, 2006, at Gateshead International Stadium, with wind assistance measured at +1.5 m/s. The exact time was 9.7629[24] which was rounded up to 9.77 as per IAAF rules. On August 18, 2006, in Zürich, Powell equaled it again for the second time, with wind assistance at +1.0 m/s. He won his sixth IAAF Golden League event (in the 100 m) the same season, thus earning him a total of $250,000 in prize money. Powell also won the 100 m at the World Athletics Final, again setting a new championship record on September 9. One week later at the World Cup in Athletics the Americas team anchored by Powell recorded a DNF.[25][26] In October Powell again received the Caribbean And Central American (CAC) Male Athlete of the Year award.[27] On November 12, 2006, he was awarded the title of 2006 Male IAAF World Athlete of the Year along with a cheque for $100,000. He also received the honour of Track & Field Athlete of the Year for 2006.


On January 5, 2007, Powell received the Commonwealth Games Sports Foundation Athlete of the Year award.[28] On February 3 he was honored at the International Sports Group (ISG) Awards Banquet, held in New York.[29] In addition, Powell was nominated for the Laureus World Sports Awards Sportsman of the Year award.[30][31] Suffering from knee Tendinitis and missing weeks of training Powell missed competing at the Penn Relays[32] and the Jamaica International Invitational in May.[33] Powell was again the Jamaican National Champion for the 100 m. Unfortunately, Powell again injured his groin while running the final at the Jamaica Championships.[34] He only managed to finish third in the 100 m final at the 2007 World Championships in Osaka, Japan, behind Tyson Gay, who was considered Powell’s biggest rival building up to the Championships. Derrick Atkins, Powell’s second cousin,[35] came second in 9.91 s. Powell himself finished in a time of 9.96 s (running in a 0.5 m/s headwind) after being passed by Gay and Atkins in the late stages of the race. Later he admitted that after seeing Gay pass him, he panicked and gave up, allowing Atkins to also overtake.

However Powell did help to win the silver medal in the 4×100 m relay race. Running the anchor leg for the Jamaican team, he came from fifth and passed Great Britain at the line to help record a Jamaican national record of 37.89 s. The United States meanwhile, took gold.

On September 9, 2007, in the opening heats of the IAAF Grand Prix in Rieti, Italy, Powell ran a new world record time of 9.74 s (+1.7 m/s) in the 100 m, thus fulfilling the promise he had made earlier after his bronze medal in Osaka, that he would break the record by the end of the year. This was intended to make up for the disappointment of not becoming World Champion.[38] Remarkably, Powell eased up in the final few metres of his record-setting run, indicating that he was saving his strength for the final.[39] In the final itself, Powell finished in 9.78 s (0 m/s windspeed) and bettered his semi-final time, when adjusted for wind assistance.[40]

Unfortunately, Powell ended his season on September 30 with a left hamstring injury, which came about while running in the lead of the 200 m race at the Super Track & Field meet in Yokohama, Japan.[41] Powell finished 2007 with a total of five IAAF Grand Prix event wins, plus his second consecutive World Athletic Final 100 m win, with yet another championship record. For the third consecutive year Powell won the Caribbean And Central American (CAC) Male Athlete of the Year award.[42] Powell closed the year receiving the IAAF Performance of the Year award, for his 9.74 s world record,[43] and was ranked second in the world.


On January 29, 2008, Powell received the RJR Sports Foundation’s 2007 Sportsman of the Year award.[44] Powell’s 2008 season started much as his 2007 season ended: with another injury. Powell was forced to pull out of the Sydney Grand Prix meeting, having suffered a gash to his left knee that required four stitches. The injury was a result of tripping on the steps of his home, hours before getting on the flight to Sydney on February 12.[45]

Powell was again injured in April, this time with damage to his pectoral muscles.[46] The injury forced Powell out of competition for two months, and was sustained while weight training in Jamaica during mid-April. Surgery was required, and a visible scar was left on his right underarm.

On May 31, fellow Jamaican Usain Bolt ran a time of 9.72 s at the Reebok Grand Prix in New York City, breaking Powell’s three-year dominance of the 100 m world record.

On July 11, Powell suffered his third injury of 2008 while leading in Heat 1 of the Golden Gala Roma, eventually finishing fifth.[47] He had injured his groin (described as a “strain”[48] and a “cramp”), and was forced to miss the next two events on the Grand Prix schedule.[49] Powell made his comeback at the DN Galan meet, where he beat the new World Record holder Bolt, in a close race. The meet’s top performers were a Jamaican 1-2-3-4 with Nesta Carter and Michael Frater following the pair.[50] This top four would later combine to run the 4×100m relay at the Olympics.

Prior to the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, Powell hit back at the claims saying he lacked the mental strength needed to win an Olympic gold medal.

It [the Olympics] doesn’t scare me. The guys that I’m running against in Beijing are the same ones I run against all year, it’s no different at the Olympics – it’s just a name, and you should put that aside until you cross the line. If all you guys look back and check from before, you’ll see that Athens was my first Olympics, I ran my personal best in the final – so I’m not sure why people say I don’t run my best in finals. The World Championships was the only final where I didn’t do as expected. I made a once-in-a-lifetime mistake and it won’t happen again. I’m running against myself – I’m the only one who can defeat myself and I don’t intend to.[51]

Despite his words, the 100 m final saw Powell again finish in a disappointing fifth, recording a time of 9.95 s. Teammates Bolt and Michael Frater also raced in the final. Bolt won and broke the record he set months earlier (finishing in 9.69 s) and Frater came sixth, recording his first sub-10 clocking at 9.97 s.

Seven days later, Powell finally got his first Olympic medal as he anchored the Jamaican 4×100 m relay team to victory, helping establish a new world record in the process. His split time was recorded at 8.57 s (USATF High Performance Registered Split Analysis), bettering his previous record of 8.97 s set in Osaka, 2007. This is the fastest electronically timed anchor run in history, as Bob Hayes was hand timed as running between 8.6–8.9 seconds in the 1964 Olympics.[52]

On September 2, 2008, Powell ran a new personal best in the 100 m by recording a time of 9.72 s, with windspeed measured at +0.2 m/s. He accomplished this feat at the AthletissimaGrand Prix in Lausanne, Switzerland. After the run, Powell said that Bolt’s record performance at the Olympics had inspired him to target a time of 9.59 s:

Two years ago I said to myself I could go 9.65 or faster but based on how Usain is running it’s my aim now to go below 9.6. Usain can obviously run very fast but I’m not going to put him out of my reach. I’d say in the Olympic 100 m it looked like Usain could have run 9.63, 9.65 maybe. I was shocked to see what he did in the race, it was ridiculous. I can’t imagine the times he’s capable of running at the moment. He’s the man to beat right now but before it was me and if I can break another world record then I’ll be the one back in the spotlight.[53]

He was optimistic about his future chances on the track, and philosophical as to why he couldn’t peak in past major championships:

The 2012 London Games will be my last opportunity and Beijing was certainly my best chance but you never give up. I’ve got no idea why I’m always winning on the circuit but then finishing fifth at the Olympics. Maybe if it was just a one-off race without the qualifying rounds I would have done better. Who knows? Maybe I’m not the guy for those big championships but just the guy to compete in the Grand Prix and Golden League meetings. It’s just unfortunate.[53]

Following his fifth place finish in Beijing on August 16, Powell recorded seven consecutive 100 m races under 9.90 s, including two races under 9.80 s. In addition, 2008 was Powell’s second-best season on the Grand Prix circuit, claiming seven victories, plus his third consecutive win (and fourth overall) in the 100 m at the World Athletics Final.[54]

On his return to Jamaica, Powell was honoured in a homecoming celebration and received an Order of Distinction (Commander Rank) in recognition of his achievements at the Olympics.[55] For the second consecutive year Powell ranked second in the world.


Powell opened his season on January 31 at the Grace Jackson Invitational, held at Stadium East, Kingston, Jamaica. He ran the 400 metres, winning his heat in 47.75 s, placing him second overall in the four heat time-final.[56]

Powell ran the anchor leg for two relay teams at the Milo Western Relays held at the GC Foster College on February 14. In his first race, his MVP team recorded a new meet record and world leading time of 38.72 s for the 4×100 m relay.[57] Later he was timed at 46.27 for his leg of the 4×400 metres relay, again winning the race for his MVP team.[58]

Powell next competed in the Sydney Track Classic in Australia on February 28, again running the anchor leg in the 4×100 m relay and winning the event in a new world leading time of 38.62 s.[59] Two hours later he ran a 400 m race, finishing fourth in a new personal best 45.94 s, shaving 1.23 seconds off his previous best time.

Five days later Powell ran his first 100 m race of the season. Competing at the Melbourne Track Classic he ran a world leading[61] 10.23 s, wind measuring -1.4 m/s on the coldest day of the year to date.[62]

On April 16 Powell was nominated for the Laureus World Team of the Year award, as a member of the 2008 Jamaica Olympic Sprint Team.[63][64]

Powell then found himself involved in controversy when he was a last-minute “no show” at the UTech Track and Field Classic on April 18.[65] It had previously been announced that Powell would run the 200 m and 4×100 m relay races. Powell attended the meet as a spectator. A press conference called three days later by the MVP Track Club did not fully answer questions as to why Powell did not compete.[66] The matter was reported to the Jamaica Fair Trading Commission who announced on April 23 that they started investigations.[67]

Powell was next to run at the Penn Relays on April 25 but on the morning of the event the Jamaica Observer reported that he had withdrawn from the 4×100 m relay. His manager Paul Doyle stated that Powell would not run due to concerns with his ankle while running the curve on the Franklin Field track. The Jamaica Observer cited a “highly placed source” when reporting that Powell had turned his ankle in training at Utech.[68] Despite the report, Powell ran the anchor leg of the relay but aggravated the ankle injury[69], pulled up and finished ninth in 41.24[70]

Scheduled to run at the IAAF Super Grand Prix in Doha on May 8, Powell withdrew from the event, citing the need for sufficient time for his injured ankle to properly heal.[71] He finished seventh in his first event returning from injury, the Reebok Grand Prix held in New York at Icahn Stadium on May 30.[72] When interviewed he stated that his ankle was very weak but not painful.[73] He finished second in his next event, the Prefontaine Classic eight days later.[74]. On the June 27 he qualified for the 100 m at the 2009 World Championships in Athletics with a second place finish in 9.97 s at the Jamaican national championships.[75] At the Bislett Games on July 3 Powell overcame a poor start to win the 100 m in a 10.07 s photo finish.[76]Four days later he recorded the same time in winning the Athletissima 100 m.[77] Although he improved his season’s best to 9.88 he finished second to Tyson Gay at the Golden Gala Roma on July 10.[78] Powell next ran the 100 m at the International Meeting of Athletics’ Sports Solidarity, a charity event that encourages the participation of disabled athletes, finishing third.[79]

At the 2009 World Championships in Athletics, Powell took bronze in the finals of the 100 m meet with a time of 9.84 seconds, while compatriot Bolt broke his own world record by running 9.58 seconds. Eight days later, on the 22nd of August, Powell helped Jamaica claim gold in the 4 x 100 m relay by running the anchor leg. The time of 37.31 seconds set was a new Championship Record for the event.


Asafa Powell opened his 2010 season on the 20th of February at the UWI Invitational Meet in Jamaica, by competing in the 400m. He won his heat in a time of 47.56s, but he was placed 3rd overall according to his time. He then ran the 200m at the UTech Classic on the 17th of April 2010, also in his homeland. He competed in the 200m in heavy rain and cold conditions. Powell opened up a huge lead in the first 100m after which he slowed drastically and won his heat in 21.27s in a 1m/s headwind. Later it was reported that Powell had suffered minor cramps on his left calf muscles, which was why he had to slow down. Powell was next scheduled to run in the hightly anticipated 4x100m Penn Relays featuring Jamaica Yellow, and competing against Usain Bolt (Jamaica Black). But he pulled out of the race as it was reported by his assistant coach that he had an injured toe which would need sometime to heal. At the IAAF Diamond League in Doha, Powell made a wind aided time of 9.75s in the heat and 9.81s in the final,also wind-aided. He subsequently set a 100 m world leading time of 9.83 s. En route to this performance, he also set the rarely run 100 yards dash world best at 9.07 s, beating the previous record of 9.21 set by Charlie Greene. Powell next competed at the DKF Bislett Games in Oslo, Norway where he powered to a splendid victory with a wind-aided 9.72s. A week later, he competed at the Golden Gala in Rome, Italy, where he overcame a very poor reaction time at the start to take another victory in a World Leading time of 9.82s.It was reported that Powell ended his six-year contract with leading sports brand, Nike, due to sponsorship problems and rumours spread that he has a new contract with fast upcoming Chinese sports brand, Li Ning. Asafa next competed in the 200m of the Jamaican Senior Trials where he won the final in 19.97s, his second fastest ever. There, for the first time, he promoted his new Li Ning outfit. Powell next competed in Gateshead where he got off to a terrific start, but lost to fast finishing Tyson Gay, who took the victory in 9.94s to Powell’s 9.96s in a strong 1.7m/s headwind. Powell was not very disappointed as he mentioned that he got too relaxed, thus allowing Gay to outdo him in the final strides. The next race in Paris against Usain Bolt was a disappointing one. Although he had a good start, Bolt caught him at halfway point, and Asafa began to lose his fluent running form. He finished 2nd to Bolt in 9.91s, 0.07s slower than his rival, also into a slight headwind. Asafa said that he had a very bad race, which he hoped to improve in his upcoming races.

Accomplishments and major competition results

Personal bests

Event Time (seconds) Venue Date
60 metres 6.56 [80] New York City, United States February 6, 2004
100 metres 9.72 [81] Lausanne, Switzerland September 2, 2008
200 metres 19.90 [82] Kingston, Jamaica June 25, 2006
400 metres 45.94 [83] Sydney, Australia February 28, 2009

Competition record

60 metres

Event Result City Date
2004 IAAF World Indoor Championships 5th Semifinal Budapest March 5, 2004

100 metres

Event Result (Pos) City Date
2003 IAAF World Athletics Final 7th Final Monaco September 13, 2003
2004 Olympic Games 5th Final Athens August 22, 2004
2004 IAAF World Athletics Final 1st Final Monaco September 18, 2004
2006 Commonwealth Games 1st Final Melbourne March 20, 2006
2006 IAAF World Athletics Final 1st Final Stuttgart September 9, 2006
2007 World Championships 3rd Final Osaka August 26, 2007
2007 IAAF World Athletics Final 1st Final Stuttgart September 22, 2007
2008 Olympic Games 5th Final Beijing August 16, 2008
2008 IAAF World Athletics Final 1st Final Stuttgart September 13, 2008
2009 World Championships 3rd Final Berlin August 16, 2009
2009 IAAF World Athletics Final 2nd Final Thesaloniki September 12, 2009

200 metres

Event Result City Date
2004 Olympic Games 4th Semifinal (Final DNS) Athens August 25, 2004
2004 IAAF World Athletics Final 1st Final Monaco September 20, 2004

4×100 metres relay

Event Result City Date
2002 Commonwealth Games 2nd Final Manchester July 31, 2002
2003 World Championships DQ Final Paris August 31, 2003
2005 World Championships 4th Final Helsinki August 13, 2005
2006 Commonwealth Games 1st Final Melbourne March 25, 2006
2007 World Championships 2nd Final Osaka September 1, 2007
2008 Olympic Games 1st Final Beijing August 22, 2008 World Record Olympic Record
2009 World Championships 1st Final Berlin August 22, 2009 Championship Record

Miscellaneous accomplishments

Sub-10.0 runs (100 m)

  • To date, Powell has run the 100 m under 10 seconds legally on 63 occasions,[84] breaking the record held by former world record holder Maurice Greene who ran 100 m sub 10’s on 53 occasions [84] Powell has 31 runs in the 9.90 to 9.99 range (second in the category), Greene has the record with 42 between 9.90 to 9.99

Sub-9.90 runs (100 m)

  • Powell has run under 9.90 seconds 29 times, 22 of which are in the 9.80 to 9.89 range. Maurice Greene is second in this category, with 10 runs in the 9.80 to 9.89 range.[85]

Sub-9.80 runs (100 m)

  • Powell is one of three men to have run legally under 9.80 seconds more than once, having done so seven times. Bolt and Gay are the other individuals to have achieved this feat.

Sub-10.0 runs, Season (100 m)

  • Powell is the only man to have run legally under 10.00 seconds 15 times in a single season (2008).[86] He also has the joint-second best sub-10 seasons on record, with 12 runs in 2006[87] and 2009[88] and the joint fourth best of 9 runs in 2004,[89] shared with Maurice Greene (1999) and Frank Fredericks (1997).[90]

IAAF World Athletics Tour wins

Powell has recorded a total of 35 wins in IAAF Grand Prix events, 14 coming in Golden League events and 12 in IAAF Super Grand Prix events.[91]

In the seven year history of the IAAF World Athletics Final (2003–2009), he won the most competitions of any male athlete and took home the most prize money in the male events. In his seven appearances at the competition, he won the 100 m four times and the 200 m once, winning US$173,000 in total.

Time progression in the 100 m

The progression of Powell’s 100 m seasons’ best times

Personal life

Powell is a deeply religious man citing his mother and father and his strict upbringing as the reason for this.[94]

In 2002 tragedy struck the Powell family when one of Asafa’s brothers, Michael Powell, was shot dead in a taxi in New York.[95] This emotional event happened the week of the Jamaica National Trials.[94] In 2003, Asafa lost another brother during the week of the Jamaica National Championships. One year after the death of Michael, Vaughn Powell suffered a heart attack while playing a game of American Football.[96] In April 2007 Corey Reid, an uncle of Powell, was stabbed in Waterloo, Ewarton, St. Catherine. He later died in hospital.[97].

Powell is known to be occasionally shy but nonetheless good natured and somewhat of a joker.[citation needed] He is good friends with compatriot, 100 and 200 metre world record holderUsain Bolt[98] The two are often seen joking around and do meet off the track. He is also a boyfriend of professional beautyqueen Yendi Phillipps

Powell is known as an avid car enthusiast.


  • Powell has been under contract with Nike since 2004, representing them in all his IAAF races, and agreeing to appear in various advertising campaigns for the company. Nike designed and built the Zoom Aerofly shoes for him, which were used at the 2008 Beijing Games.[101]
  • GlaxoSmithKline, through its energy drink Lucozade, has sponsored Powell since he first broke the 100 m World Record in 2005. They honored his Beijing achievements in a small function in October 2008.[102]
  • In January 2006, Powell signed as a global brand spokesperson for Nutrilite. Nutrilite products are sold through the Amway corporation.[103] On January 14, 2009 Amway’s Team Nutrilite announced the end of the sponsorship agreement with Powell.