It’s been 15 years since Jamaican Asafa Powell first broke the 100 metres world record.
Powell, now 37, was one of Jamaica’s first modern day male sprinters, ushering in an era that would see the nation of less than three million, rise to the forefront of global athletics.
The ‘Sub-10 King’ (so-called for dipping under the magical 10-second barrier 97 times, more than anyone else) blazed 9.77 seconds in Athens, Greece on June 14, 2005. In doing so, Powell broke American Tim Montgomery’s then world record of 9.78 seconds, just the first of many jaw-dropping highlights to come.
He would go on to break the record again on September 9, 2007, when he ran a blistering 9.74 seconds at the IAAF Grand Prix in Rieti, Italy. The performance was doubly satisfying, serving as a redemptive consolation for his third-place finish at the just-concluded World Championships in Osaka, Japan.
Over his career, the 6 feet 3 inches sprinter would see his star somewhat eclipsed by the rise of fellow Jamaican Usain Bolt, who not only lowered his 100m mark, but also added the 200m record as well.
The two would team up on numerous occasions to lead Jamaica to 4x100m victories on the global stage, starting a run of an unbeaten performances in the event that would last the better part of a decade.
Over his career, Powell has earned two individual bronze medals at the World Championships, along with two gold medals in the relay. He was also part of Jamaica’s Rio Olympics team that captured relay gold.
Powell is still the fourth fastest man ever over the 100 metres, trailing Bolt (9.58 seconds), American Tyson Gay (9.69 seconds) and countryman Yohan Blake (9.69 seconds).