OSTRAVA, Czech Republic (Sporting Alert) — Usain Bolt has admitted he was happy to get the chance to hang out with Jamaican countryman Asafa Powell ahead of the Ostrava IAAF World Challenge meeting on Tuesday.
Despite their sprinting battles, Bolt, the current sprint double world record holder and Powell, the former 100m world record holder, have enjoyed a good relationship away from the track, even though they were from rival training groups in Kingston.
However, the past two seasons have not been favourable for Powell, who has struggled with injuries and was even suspended for failing a drug test.
In the midst of all those problems, Powell also split with long-time coach Stephen Francis because of several personal differences, according to reports.
The 32-year-old managed to work his way back to full fitness and looked impressive when running 9.84 seconds to win the 100m at the Jamaica International Invitational earlier this month and is looking forward to racing in Ostrava.
After landing in the Czech Republic from his long flight, Bolt revealed he met up with Powell at the dinner ahead of the Golden Spike and the two did some catching up.
“I feel much better, after such a long trip,” Bolt said, speaking at the press conference on Sunday. “I am happy to see that entire hotel and stadium complex have improved.
“I have met Asafa Powell at the dinner and since we have not seen each other for a while we had a lot to catch up (on).”
The two world-class sprinters will race inside Ostrava’s newly renovated Mestsky Stadium, but in separate event.
Of course they wouldn’t want to meet so early in the season.
Bolt, who has won every race he’s contested at this Golden Spike meeting, will lineup in the 200m dash, looking to improve on his 20.20 seasonal best, while Powell will race in the 100m.
After his promising start in Kingston at the top of month, Powell said he now hopes to improve the Ostrava meeting record of 9.83 seconds, which he set five years-ago.
“I ran 9.84 in my last race and of course I want to be faster each race,” he said.
“This season began with high quality performances in 100m distance, including mine.
“Of course, Justin Gatlin, Tyson Gay, Yohan Blake and Usain Bolt are very fast again, but I focus on myself and do not really care about results of others.”
Powell added: “This year`s goal is to make it to the World Championships in Beijing. It will not be easy to qualify there, because the Jamaican National Championships in this event is a kind of upcoming World Championships itself.
“I hope to make it and do better in the Birds nest than in the Olympics.”
Powell will meet Great Britain’s Richard Kilty and Lesotho’s Mosito Lehata, who has clocked a personal best of 10.11 seconds already this season.
World 800m record holder David Rudisha of Kenya will continue his speed work when he contest the 600m.