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Powell runs 10.23 in first 100-meter dash of season

FORMER world record-holder Asafa Powell looked comfortable in his first competitive 100-meter race of 2009, clocking 10.23 seconds yesterday to win at the season-opening World Athletics Tour meet in Melbourne, .

Powell, who finished fifth at the Beijing Olympics behind fellow Jamaican and current record-holder Usain Bolt, surged out of the blocks and finished two meters ahead of countryman Nesta Carter (10.42) and New Zealand's David Ambler (10.52).

Running into a 1.4-meter head wind and in cool conditions at Melbourne Olympic Park, Powell said he was satisfied with his run. "It was a bit cold, the wind was heavy, but I'm still satisfied. I made it through," he said.

Powell, who held the old 100 world mark at 9.74 seconds until Bolt lowered the record to 9.69, was aiming for a sub-10 second mark for the 49th time in his career.

"I'm not feeling bad about that race because the conditions were very poor," he said. "So I'm excited to see what's going to happen in the next event."

Powell, 26, held the 100 world record between June 2005 and May 2008, and won gold at Beijing as part of Jamaica's 4x100 relay team.

Now working with a sports psychologist and with an altered training regime, Powell deflected talk of challenging Bolt for the record this year.

"I'm working hard this year and I'm really working to match myself, because I'm the one who's always beaten myself."

Olympic pole vault champion Steve Hooker of Australia cleared 5.8 meters to win on home soil.

Hooker, who set an Olympic record at Beijing when he cleared 5.96, set the bar at 6 meters after winning his event, but failed to better his height.

Olympic champion Melane Walker of Jamaica started slowly and never looked like challenging as she finished third in the women's 400 behind Australia's Tamsyn Lewis and Monique Lewis of New Zealand. Tamsyn Lewis finished in 51.86 - Walker was timed in 52.26.

In the women's 100 hurdles, Olympic silver medalist Sally McLellan of Australia held out Jamaica's Brigitte Foster.

"Beating Brigitte is a really big accomplishment," McLellan said. "She's the Commonwealth Games champion and I'm going to face her when I go over to the World Championships this year."

In the men's 110 hurdles, Olympic bronze medalist David Oliver ran 13.6 to beat fellow American Joel Brown at 13.91. Australia's Justin Merlino was third.


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