Asafa Powell (left) finishes ahead of Ainsley Waugh in the men's 400m at the 2008 Grace Jackson Invitational (SportingEagle Photo) © Copyright
General News 1 February 2009 – Kingston, Jamaica

Fraser, Walker and Powell open 2009 campaigns in Kingston

Kingston, JamaicaOlympic champions ShellyAnn Fraser and Melaine Walker, and former World 100m record holder Asafa Powell, launched their 2009 competition campaigns at the Queen's/Grace Jackson Invitational, held at the Stadium east complex on Saturday (31 Jan).

Powell, in a competitive 400m heat, held off the challenge of Nesta Carter, his teammate on the history making Beijing 4x100m team, to win in 47.75 seconds.

Carter (47.82) and Ainsley Waugh (48.08) who like Powell are members of the Stephen Francis-coached MVP track & field club were second and third respectively.

Powell's winning time, was the second quickest overall of the day behind Annsert Whyte of Racers Track Club (47.59) who won the fourth race.

Powell said his race strategy was different from last year when he made a fool of himself by going out too hard. "Last year I was running like a mad man, I came here and ran the first 300m like crazy and could not finish, but this year, I just controlled my race," explained the 26-year-old Powell who has a career best of 47.17 (2007).

"I just went out and reserved something for the end," he explained while saying "47.7 was a good time for a sprinter. The aim was to finish and run under 48 seconds, which I did, and I am very satisfied."

Fraser, the Beijing Olympic 100m champion, ran 54.99 sec for second place in heat two of the women's 400m behind Anneisha McLaughlin (53.92), and was third overall behind overall fastest of the day Brigitte Foster-Hylton (53.89).

Fraser was also satisfied with her 54.99 run, a personal best. "I totally hate the 400m, but I have to do it and it's something I will have to get over," said Fraser, who won Olympic 100m gold in 10.78.

"Things are looking good so far, especially with this 54.9 run, which is a big personal best for me," said the 22-year-old. "I did 58 last year and I think that is a big improvement and good sign going into an important season," added Fraser.

In the 200m, Walker, the Beijing 400m Hurdles champion, crossed the finish line in 23.73 seconds to set the overall fastest time of the day from her section race. Other Olympians, Shericka Williams, silver medallist in the women's 400m from Beijing, and Anastasia Le-Roy, were second and third in 23.77 and 24.42 respectively.

Meanwhile, in the high schools section, Ramone McKenzie, Calabar's World Youth 200m champion, won his pet event, the Boys' Class One 200m, in 21.37 ahead of Kingston College's (KC) Keiron Stewart, the World Junior 110m hurdles bronze medallist (21.38).

Anthony Foster for the IAAF