Asafa Powell will run in Athlone IT Athletics Grand Prix
Former Olympic gold medallist sprinter and Mutaz Essa Barshim will compete in Athlone
Asafa Powell of Jamaica will compete in the flesh next February after the Athlone Institute of Technology. Photograph: Michael Steele/Getty Images
Irish athletics fans will get to see former 100 metres world record holder Asafa Powell compete in the flesh next February after the Athlone Institute of Technology announced that he will headline their second annual grand prix in the new year.
The 32-year-old will be joined by Mutaz Essa Barshim, the Qatari world indoor high jump champion, for the AIT hosted event on February 18th 2015.
Powell returned to the track last summer, having been banned for testing positive for the drug oxilofrine in 2013, after his 18-month suspension was lifted on July 14th 2014.
Since then Powell has ran three sub-ten second times, running the summer’s third fastest 100m sprint, only slightly behind the United States’ Justin Gatlin and Trinidad and Tobago’s Richard Thompson’s times.
An Olympic gold medallist in 2008, as part of the Jamaican 4x100m relay team, Powell, says that he is “really looking forward to this event, I know it will be special.”
The AIT International Arena Grand Prix represents the first time that the Jamaican will compete in Ireland.
“I am looking forward to getting in a few competitions this indoor season. I have only run a few indoor races in my career and I never really prepared properly for those.
“This year I plan to do a little more specific preparation for these indoor races and really explore what is possible for me. I have always been a great starter, so it should only make sense that I am capable of some really fast times in the 60m,” he commented.
Powell has enjoyed a glittering career, having held the 100m world record between June 2005 and May 2008, with times of 9.77 and 9.74 seconds respectively. He has consistently broken the 10-second barrier in competition, with his personal best of 9.72 being the fifth fastest time in the history of the event.
The second annual grand prix to be held in the Athlone Institute of Technology (AIT) venue will look to build on the sold-out success of the 2014 meet, which starred Ashton Eaton, the Olympic decathlon champion and world record holder.
Powell will be joined by world indoor high jump champion, Barshim.
The 23-year-old has exhibited excellent form this year, concluding his Diamond League campaign for 2014 courtesy of a captivating first time clearance at 2.43m in September to secure the overall IAAF Diamond League title in Brussels with an Asian record, World leading mark and Diamond League record.
Earlier in the year he secured gold at the World Indoor Championships in Sopot with a jump of 2.38m, as well as gold in the Asian Indoor Championships in Hangzhou with 2.36m. Last year, Barshim came second in the World Championships in Moscow with 2.38m, while a bronze in the London Olympics for 2.29m seems a long time ago now.
“I’m very excited to come to Ireland for the first time, and to compete at what I have been told is an amazing facility,” said Barshim.
“Right now things are going very well for me in the sport and I am enjoying myself. I look forward to continuing my progress this indoor season and having a lot of fun in the process. I will only do four competitions this indoor season and I am thrilled that Ireland will be one of those stops,” he added.