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Powell names Bolt not Gay as his main Olympic rival

Former world 100 metres world record holder Asafa Powell is looking no further than this weekend's Jamaican national championships to find his biggest challenger for Olympic gold.

india Updated: Jun 22, 2008 19:54 IST

Former world 100 metres world record holder Asafa Powell is looking no further than this weekend's Jamaican national championships to find his biggest challenger for Olympic gold.

"(Usain Bolt) is my main rival," said Powell, picking his compatriot over American world champion Tyson Gay after a confidence-boosting run of 9.96 seconds at the Trinidad national championships on Saturday.

The race was Powell's first since an April shoulder injury and set the stage for a clash with new world record holder Bolt on Friday through Sunday in the Jamaican championships in Kingston.

The meeting will be the first over 100 metres for the pair, who hold the seven fastest recognised times in the event.

However, Powell played down the possibility that it would be a major showdown.

"I am not sure there will be any real competition there," the 25-year-old Jamaican told Reuters.

The real challenge, Powell said, will come at the Beijing Olympics in August if Bolt decides to run the 100 as well as the 200.

World 200 metres silver medallist Bolt is not expected to announce his decision on a possible double until he has competed in both the 100 and 200 at the Jamaican championships.

He holds the year's fastest times in both events, including the world record of 9.72 seconds in the 100 metres.

CARIBBEAN STRENGTH

Powell said Bolt's presence in the 100 would give the Caribbean a strong chance for more than one Olympic medal in the event.

"I am really excited because the (athletes) from the Caribbean are running so well right now," Powell said. "You have Darrel Brown, Marc Burns (both of Trinidad) and Usain Bolt.

"Gay is the only person outside the Caribbean who can challenge us right now."

Although Powell has set or tied the 100 metres world record four times, he has never won a global title, finishing fifth in the 2004 Olympics and third in the 2007 world championships.

"Physically, I would not be doing anything different," Powell said. "It is just about being able to mentally focus more on myself."

Trinidad's four-times Olympic sprint medallist Ato Boldon told Reuters that Bolt's world record could take the pressure off Powell.

"I think Powell is better rested than ever before going into a major competition," Boldon said. "He is not the fastest man in the world anymore and not even the fastest man on his island but I think that can help him psychologically.

"He has the tools to just go out there and run."

Boldon, who won Olympic silver and bronze medals in the 100 metres and two bronzes in the 200, said, "It is unfortunate that people say he does not perform (in the big races).

"I went through the same thing when I could not beat (American Olympic and world 100 metres champion) Maurice Greene," he said. "But I know it takes just one race to change that."