Powell not ducking Gay, say Yokohama organisers

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TOKYO, Sep 20 (Reuters) World record holder Asafa Powell did not duck out of a 100 metres rematch with American Tyson Gay in Japan later this month, organisers insisted today.

Powell is scheduled to run in his less-favoured 200m in Yokohama on Sept. 30 after a late decision to take part in the season-ending competition, officials told Reuters.

The Jamaican, who broke his own world record in the 100m earlier this month with a time of 9.74 seconds, was beaten by Gay in the world championships in Osaka last month.

''We invited Powell to run in the the 200 and Gay the 100,'' organising committee spokesman Jun Yamada said. ''That was how we presented the offer to them.

''They're VIP athletes and we decided that we wanted fans around the world to be able to savour them racing each other at next year's Beijing Olympics so we kept them apart.'' Those words will ring hollow, however, after the rival sprinters spent the whole of this year avoiding each other until the world championships.

Powell took bronze in Osaka after slowing up in the last 20 metres, admitting after the race he had choked, while Gay went on to add golds in the 200 and 4x100 relay.

The Jamaican lowered the 100m world record in Rieti on September 9, shaving 0.03 seconds off his previous mark, but question marks remain over his mental toughness under big-race pressure.

Gay, meanwhile, is planning to run in Shanghai two days before competing in Yokohama. He will also run in Taegu, South Korea on October 3.

Reuters BJR GC1438

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