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Last Updated: Tuesday, 1 June, 2004, 23:09 GMT 00:09 UK
Powell to make shock return
By Tom Fordyce

Mike Powell leaps to a new world record in 1991
Powell leaps to the new world record in 1991
World long jump record holder Mike Powell is to make a shock bid to win an Olympic medal at the age of 40.

Powell, who set his record 13 years ago in Tokyo, retired three years ago after a distinguished career.

"I just want to make the US Olympic team, and then let the chips fall where they may," he said.

"I'm 40, but I don't look 40. A lot of the things I do in training with younger guys, I match them or kick their butts."

Former world champion Powell, who took Olympic silver in 1988 and 1992, told BBC Sport his inspiration came from his great rival Carl Lewis.

"In 1996, Carl came in and stole the Olympic gold medal," said Powell.

"He got one big jump, having not jumped that far in three or four years, and it came at the right time.

"In my mind I thought, if I can jump 8.30m on one jump, historically that would be enough to get me on the US team.

"Then I thought, if I can duplicate that at the Olympics, then 8.30m has again been enough historically to win a medal."

Mike Powell gesticulates after breaking the world record
Born: 10 Nov 1963
Personal best: 8.95m
Honours: World champion 1991, 1993; Olympic silver medallist 1988, 1992

Powell's duel with Lewis at the 1991 World Championships is widely regarded as one of the great moments in athletics history.

Bob Beamon's old record had stood for 23 years, while Lewis - newly-crowned 100m world record holder - had a 10-year, 65-meet winning streak in the long jump.

But Powell, who earlier in his career had been nicknamed "Mike Foul" for his inability to hit the take-off board correctly, then came up with the greatest jump in history, an incredible 8.95m, to blow away a record many had thought was unbreakable.

"I'm not where I used to be, but there are flashes," Powell added.

"I'll know where I am when the (US) trials come up. If I know that I can't be competitive, I'll be in the stands.

"At the moment, according to what I'm doing from 11 steps, I'd be jumping around eight metres from my full approach.

"It will probably now take about 8.20m to make the team.

"What would happen if someone made the team with 8.05m? Man, I would kick myself in the butt for not trying."

Fast and light

Powell has been coaching the highly-rated Taher Hussein Al-Sabee as well as US hopefuls Bunmi Canales, Khara Covington, and Cody Jones.

He plans to limit his own training and competition to protect his body.

"I just keep by body fast, light and healthy. If I jump too much my body gets too zinged up.

"Sometimes I run around too much and then ache for three days after, so I have to keep it calm.

"Obviously I'm serious because I'm training. But no-one expects anything. If it doesn't work out, then all I've lost is weight.

"For me to make the team will be like winning a medal. And if I actually won a medal, aged 40, having not jumped for all this time - that would be like a gold to me."

Links to more Athletics stories


Powell leaps into history books
18 Aug 03  |  World Athletics 2003
Stringfellow misses Athens
25 May 04  |  Athletics


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