Soccer is second nature to me: Powell

The 100-m king, Asafa Powell says that soccer is like a family tradition for him.

india Updated: May 18, 2006 17:25 IST

Would you prefer to win an Olympic gold and break a world record or be world champion in football after scoring the winning goal in the last minute?

This is a difficult decision for Asafa Powell to make. The 100-metre king, in contrast to his predecessors Maurice Greene and Tim Montgomery, has footballers' blood running through his veins.

"I would rather have the gold medal and world record, although I know that scoring the winning goal would bring me more fame than athletics," admits the Jamaican sprinter in an interview with DPA, in which he stepped aside from the track to talk about football, a sport he played as a center forward in high school.

On June 14, 2005, 23-year-old Powell became the quickest man ever to run the 100m since the most emblematic distance in sprint was first officially timed in 1912. He clocked 9.77 seconds, one hundredth of a second less than the record previously held by American Tim Montgomery.

Justin Gatlin who, on May 12, set a new world best mark of 9.76s has now just equaled that record. In 2004, Powell finished fifth at the Olympic games in Athens.

But with the 2006 World Cup in Germany just around the corner, Powell is willing to talk about football.

"I remember I once scored three times in the same match," he said. The sport represents a 'family tradition' for him and is followed with passion in the Caribbean islands that will eternally have reggae singer Bob Marley as their most famous icon.


Unlike other sprinters, football is not a mystery for you. How do you know so much about it?

Football is second nature to me. My brothers and I used to play football all day long. It is basically a family tradition. I played as a centre forward in Charlemont High School.

If you compare football and athletics, what would you bring from football into your sport and what do you think is better as it is in athletics?

Both require huge dedication, hard work and training. Winning is a key factor in both sports. What would I bring from football into athletics? More support.

I think athletics should get more support. Stadiums are always packed for football games, while in athletics the stands are only full during historic moments like the Olympics.

The advantages? Except for the relays, athletics is an individual sport and, therefore, I can control my race from start to finish, without having to depend on any team-mates.

If you could choose, would you rather win an Olympic gold medal while beating the world record or score the winning goal in the last minute of a World Cup final?

I would prefer the gold medal and world record, although I know that scoring the winning goal would bring me more fame than athletics. But my heart is with athletics, and nothing can be compared to achieving success in this sport.

What is your strongest memory of a football World Cup?

France 1998. Jamaica qualified for that World Cup and played well.

What is most important for Jamaican fans, the World Cup in France or your world record?

My 100-metre world record!

Do you think your country's football team will reach a World Cup tournament again?

Things are not going as well in football as eight years ago, but we have talent. It is just a matter of taking advantage of its full potential. Once we do that, I'm sure that things would go well.

The eternal question: Pele or Maradona and why?

Pele, because he is the best in history.

And your favourite team and player nowadays?

Brazil and Ronaldinho.

How will you follow the World Cup? Will you support Trinidad and Tobago because they represent the Caribbean?

I will always support the Caribbean countries, and I hope that Trinidad and Tobago have a good World Cup. I will be following the progress of the strong teams too.

As a football fan, you probably have seen many fast players. Is there one in particular who could have been a world class sprinter?

Roberto Carlos, Of course!

First Published: May 18, 2006 11:42 IST