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Last Updated: Monday, 15 May 2006, 13:32 GMT 14:32 UK
Gatlin and Powell race 'still on'
Justin Gatlin and Asafa Powell
Gatlin and Powell are the two fastest men in the world
New world record holder Justin Gatlin will face predecessor Asafa Powell in Gateshead next month, according to organisers of the 11 June meeting.

The head-to-head would be the first time the two had raced since Gatlin took 0.01 seconds off Powell's time to set a new mark of 9.76secs.

American media reports had suggested Gatlin's agent wanted to keep the two apart in order to maximise interest.

But Gateshead are confident both will race in the British Grand Prix meeting.

"Subsequent to speculation in the American press, we have contacted Gatlin's agent Renaldo Nehemiah, who has assured us that Justin will race in Gateshead at the British Grand Prix," said Gateshead meeting director Ian Stewart

"UK Athletics is proud of staging the world's best athletics meetings here in Britain.

"We want to attract the best fields to the UK and we negotiated a contract with Justin Gatlin to compete at the Norwich Union British Grand Prix in Gateshead on 11 June as long ago as November last year.

"We have subsequently secured Asafa Powell for the same meeting.

"It is not out policy to discuss with athletes who they will face in an individual race."

We're trying to do our part as far as keeping interest and buzz in our sport
Justin Gatlin's agent Renaldo Nehemiah

Nehemiah told the USA Today newspaper that he wanted to make sure that Powell and Gatlin did not race too many times in order to maintain public interest in the two fastest men in the world.

"Everybody's clamouring for the first meeting," Nehemiah told USA Today.

"I would say they'll meet this year maybe two times. Maybe once (but) no more than three times.

"We're trying to do our part as far as keeping interest and buzz in our sport as to when these guys will meet, ideally culminating in the world championships next year when it really matters."

The pair last met in London last year, but Powell pulled up after a few strides with a groin problem.

Both athletes are reported to be earning a six-figure fee for their appearance in the north east.

"It's not come cheap but this is the race every person in the world this year has been waiting to see," Fast Track (the event organisers) managing director Jon Ridgeon admitted earlier this month.

"There was lots of competition from overseas, but it has always been our policy to fetch the very best of head-to-head races to our meetings."

Gatlin, the world and Olympic champion, has also signed up to race in London (28 July) and Birmingham (19/20 August) this year.


SEE ALSO
Cram on Gatlin
12 May 06 |  Athletics
Powell eager to regain world mark
14 May 06 |  Athletics
Gatlin breaks world 100m record
12 May 06 |  Athletics
Powell sets impressive early pace
07 May 06 |  Athletics
Gatlin gets season off to flyer
06 May 06 |  Athletics
Powell targets Gatlin after Games
20 Mar 06 |  Commonwealth Games
Gatlin storms to London 100m win
22 Jul 05 |  Athletics


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