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September 17, 2009

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Powell clocks 9.82 in Polish win

ASAFA Powell dominated the field to win the 100 meters in 9.82 seconds, and Tyson Gay cruised to victory in the 200 at the Pedro's Cup in Poland on Tuesday.

Powell got off to a fast start and was never challenged by the other runners.

"I wanted to come out here and run very fast for the crowd and everybody," Powell said.

Nesta Carter was second in 10.10 and Jamaica's Michael Frater was third in 10.23.

Powell had taken bronze at last month's world championships, and finished second last week at the World Athletics Final behind Gay.

Gay skipped the 100 in Szczecin, opting to run the 200 instead, and was pleased with his time of 20.21 seconds.

"This is the first time I've run the 200 in over a month or so and I haven't really been training for it, so I just wanted to get one under my belt," Gay said.

Both Powell and Gay will compete in the 100 meters in Shanghai on Sunday.

Meanwhile, changes to the athletics calendar have not been well received on the world's poorest continent.

Under the new plan, the World Cross Country Championships are being turned from an annual event into a biennial one. Television sponsors had lost interest in the event because it was always won by Kenyan or Ethiopian runners, International Association of Athletics Federations President Lamine Diack said.

"The World Cross Country championships have become not only an African affair but an East African affair, and these days you don't even get athletes from West Africa competing," Diack said.

The senior men's team races at the championships have been won by Ethiopia or Kenya every year since 1981. On the women's side, only Portugal, in 1994, have interrupted an African run of victories going back 18 years.

"This is contrary to the universal appeal of sport as a unifying factor," sais former champion Paul Tergat, who won the men's senior title between 1985 and 1989. "Giving such a reason for making such an unpopular decision is not fair to African athletes whose only fault is to work hard to win those titles. That is killing the spirit of sport."

The World Athletics Finals is being replaced under a new format that has created a Diamond League to be held in Asia, Europe and the United States. Africa will not host any events.

Kenyan IAAF council member Isaiah Kiplagat said Africa needed to take a hard look at the future of its athletes and draw up a strategic plan to deal with the changes in the sport.

"Television sponsorship is becoming more Euro-centric, hence the change of World Cross Country Championships from an annual to biennial event," said Kiplagat. "Events that are popular in Africa like steeplechase don't feature in the money circuit program as often as the sprints and field events."

He said it was not the fault of Africans that they dominated cross-country, just proof of their talent.

Dube Jillo, technical director of the Ethiopian Athletics Federation, said he felt "the utter disappointment of not just Ethiopia but the entire eastern African region".


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