Asafa ate ice cream the night before breaking 100m world record
The memory of setting a new 100 metres world record on June 14, 2005 is still fresh in Asafa Powell’s mind. After all, as Powell — known as the ‘Sub-10 King’ because he has broken the 10-second barrier in the premium event more times than any other athlete — admitted, his life changed after the achievement.
Jamaicans watched with pride as Powell blew away a quality field at the IAAF Super Grand Prix Tsiklitiria inside the Olympic Stadium in Athens, Greece, to take the 100 metres in 9.77 seconds, eclipsing American Tim Montgomery’s 9.78 seconds set in Paris in September 2002.
But even as the Caribbean island celebrated with Powell, not many people knew that before the race he was… well, not taking the event too seriously. In fact, he revealed to the Jamaica Observer last week in the run-up to the 15th anniversary of his world record success, that the night before the race he was up eating ice cream.
“Fifteen years ago seems like a very long time, but when you manage to break the world record in the 100 metres it’s something you can’t forget, it sticks with you for a lifetime,” Powell told the Sunday Observer.
“I can remember the night before the world record I was up eating ice cream, just idling around, you know. I was a very young guy at the time, so I wasn’t taking much seriously. I remember my coach came and told me to go to my bed, and I finished my ice cream and went to bed,” he recalled.
“On the day I didn’t expect to run so fast, you know, [but] my coach was there with me, coaching me through it, talking me through it, telling me what to do and stuff like that, but you know, I was just having fun. I was just excited to be back in the stadium where the Olympic Games were held the year before,” added Powell, who at the time was 22 years old and being guided by Stephen Francis, easily one of the world’s best and most successful track and field coaches.
Wire service reports at the time noted that the same meet had ironically produced a world record in the same event on June 1, 1999 when American Maurice Greene set the mark with a time of 9.79 seconds.
In the immediate aftermath of the race, Powell told reporters that he was very happy with his achievement on his second appearance in Greece. “It is amazing that after Greene I also achieved a world record in this stadium,” he said.
“I always wondered what it would be like to break a world record. I achieved my goal,” said Powell.
In second place was Ghana’s Aziz Zakari in 9.99 seconds, while Jamaica’s Michael Frater placed third in 10.03 seconds.
Reflecting on the race last week, Powell recalled that it changed his life completely and had an impact on Jamaican track and field.
“I wasn’t really thinking about all that at the time, but when I got home and a few days, a few months passed, then I got to realise that I did something really spectacular and I just had to live up to it for the rest of my life,” the highly decorated Powell said.
To celebrate the achievement the Observer wrapped its Thursday, June 15, 2005 edition with a full-length photo of Powell competing in the race with the headline ‘World Record’ in red (shown here) accompanied by a photograph of the sprinter kneeling by the results board showing his new world record.
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