Asafa Powell will find the crowd smaller and the surface a whole lot different when he competes this weekend in the Stawell Gift, a century-old handicap race held in a small town in western Victoria state.
Powell, who says he is fully recovered from the left-hamstring injury which caused him to pull up in the 100m race at last year’s London Olympics won by his countryman Usain Bolt, will start from scratch.
Starting from a mark 1m ahead of him will be Australia’s best sprinter, Josh Ross, who has twice won the 131-year-old Stawell Gift and is one of only two runners to win it off scratch.
Other competitors will be lined up at various starting positions on the track according to their 100m qualifying times.
Powell says the turf track at the country town’s Central Park should pose no problems because he trains on grass regularly at home in Jamaica.
“I’ve been working very hard after London,” the 30-year-old Powell said yesterday. “I went into recovery and then started training in October.”
“I’m in good shape, if not the best yet, because I’m still in background training and I haven’t really started speed training,” he said. “I’m strong right now and very excited to see what I can do on the track.”
Powell, who has set the 100m world record more times than any other runner, was encouraged to compete in Stawell by fellow Jamaican Michael Frater, who was eliminated in the Australian race’s semi-finals last year.
Heats for the race take place on Saturday, with the semi-finals and final on Monday.