Athletics: Asafa Powell braves cold to prove he can take heat

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Asafa Powell has swapped the Jamaican sun for the overcast skies of Birmingham in a bid to prove he is still a force in world sprinting.

The 29-year-old is running his first indoor season since 2004 as he seeks to maximise his chances of an Olympic 100 metres medal in London this summer.

Powell will compete indoors in England for the first time in his career when he goes over 60m at the Aviva Grand Prix at Birmingham’s NIA today.

Time is running out to land an elusive individual global title, the one glaring omission on the CV of the former world record holder and a man who has run more times under ten seconds than anyone in history. “It’s an important year, a very important year,” the Jamaican said. “Whatever we need to do to get ready and get in shape we’ll be doing it. Definitely I have to work harder.”

If that means sacrificing the 30 degree temperatures in his homeland to head to the midlands, where he finds it so cold he is reluctant to leave the hotel. “I don’t like the cold,” he added, with the air of a man who really means it.

Powell has started the Olympic year with a point to prove, having missed last year’s World Championships in Daegu with a groin injury and had to see fellow countryman Yohan Blake take the 100m crown following Usain Bolt’s shock disqualification. The rivalry between training partners Bolt and Blake – it intensified after Blake ran the second fastest 200m of all time in Brussels last September, meaning they are likely to line up against each other over 100m and 200m in London – has left Powell in the shade. But that is a position which sits just fine with him.

“People are still talking about me, but it’s just another person (Blake) has been added to the table,” said Powell, who clocked 5.64 seconds over 50m in New York last month and whose personal best over 60m is 6.56sec. He will be up against World Championship bronze medallist Kim Collins and Britain’s Harry Aikines-Aryeetey in Birmingham.