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Asafa Powell did it again in Zurich on Friday night, and the Olympic 100m title is looking even more destined to go to the young Jamaican. Powell got an electrifying start in the fourth Golden League meeting of the series, and no matter how hard Maurice Greene chased, in the adjacent lane, it was a lost cause from the off.
Olympic champion Greene was greeted by one of the biggest cheers of the night but Powell quickly put that into perspective. The 21-year-old got the faster start - 0.139secs to Greene's 0.147secs - and that was enough to win the race. The time was not quite as fast as for Powell's victory in London last Friday; this Friday night's race was into a 0.5 metres- per-second headwind but Powell's margin of victory looked more clear-cut than the times - 9.93secs for the Jamaican, 9.94secs for Greene - suggested.
It is the measure of the all-round excellence of this meeting that the second-string 800m race could be run in the fastest time in the world this year, 1min 43.11secs. The result was not the only extraordinary factor. Youssef Saad Kamel of Bahrain turned out to be Gregory Konchellah, son of Billy, twice world 800m champion. The pedigree should have alerted us, but Kamel gave another warning. He pointed out that Djabir Saïd-Guerni won the B-race last year, then took the world title. "It is possible for me to do the same at the Olympics," he said.
Kelly Holmes's brave run in the 1500m again contradicted her lack of confidence off track. Holmes took the lead at the bell and held on until the last few metres, when Wioletta Janowska of Poland edged ahead for victory. It was a repetition of the pair's race in Madrid a month ago. Janowska won in 4:03.09secs, a personal best, but Holmes's 4.03.48 second place is a season's best. The Briton has yet to decide between 800m and 1500m, or both in Athens.
One notable absentee, due to a leg injury, was Süreyya Ayhan. Even worse, the Turk, who has led the world rankings for the past three years, will miss the Olympic Games. Her withdrawal will give additional hope to runners such as Holmes.