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Gatlin, Powell eye Athens showdown

Written by: Staff
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RALEIGH, North Carolina, Apr 14 (Reuters) A 100 metres showdown between world record holder Asafa Powell and Olympic and world champion Justin Gatlin is being negotiated for Athens in early July, the sprinters' agents said.

''Athens on the third (of July) probably sounds like the place,'' Gatlin manager Renaldo Nehemiah yesterday told Reuters when asked where the two rivals might meet for the first time this year.

Powell's agent, Paul Doyle, and Athens Super Grand Prix meeting athletes' liaison Georgios Constantopoulous also confirmed talks were under way for Gatlin and Powell to meet in the Greek capital on July 3.

Doyle said he also was discussing the possibility of a Powell-Gatlin meeting at Gateshead, England on June 11, but organiser Ian Stewart said that was not likely.

''The expectation level of the (financial) figures for Powell are off the chart,'' Stewart told Reuters in a telephone interview from England.

If Powell and Gatlin were to race in Britain, ''it more likely would be London (July 28) than Gateshead,'' Stewart said.

Gatlin is under contract to run both races as well as the international meeting in Birmingham on August 19-20.

SPECIAL MEANING The Athens venue has special memories for Gatlin and Powell.

Gatlin won the Olympic 100 metres there in 2004 and Powell broke the world record in Athens last June, clocking 9.77 seconds.

It is also the site of American Maurice Greene's 1999 then-100 metres world record.

''You can't get better than that,'' Doyle said in a telephone interview. ''And by that stage they are both going to be in top form.'' Constantopoulous said Athens organisers would be holding more talks with the sprinters' agents next week.

''Of course, I would like to have both of them,'' Constantopoulous said in a telephone interview from Greece. ''But I have to ask (their agents) how much they want for their athletes.'' That could be deciding factor wherever the two race.

Both will run in the Prefontaine Classic in Eugene, Oregon on May 28, but in separate races. Gatlin will likely run a 100 metres there and Powell a 200.

Gatlin will open his season with 100 metres races in Osaka, Japan on May 6 and Doha, Qatar on May 12.

Commonwealth Games champion Powell will return to competition on May 6 with a 100 metres run in Kingston, Jamaica.

The two raced twice last year, with Gatlin defeating the often-injured Powell both times.

REUTERS PM RAI0917

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