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Powell admits to race day nerves

ROME, Italy, May 25- Former world record holder Asafa Powell has joined fellow Jamaican Usain Bolt in admitting to experiencing pre-race nerves ahead of the Golden Gala meeting here on Thursday.

The pair’s clash in the 100 metres is the most eagerly anticipated race on the programme here, which is part of the 14-leg Diamond League series.

Bolt admitted Tuesday he was feeling nervous for the first time in his life prior to a race, and Powell added: "That makes two of us because it’s pretty much our first real competition (this year).

"Every sprinter, when he’s going to run his first competition (of the year) is a bit nervous to see where they’re at or if they’ve forgetten how to run."

Bolt had said Tuesday: "For me there’s never any pressure but for the first time I’m slightly a little bit nervous because I haven’t run for so long.

"I’m feeling good in training every day, I’m coming back slowly, I hope to get through the race without any injuries but I should be ok."

Bolt has not raced for nine months but is still the star attraction here.

He is the world and Olympic champion and world record holder over both 100m and 200m.

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Powell was his predecessor as the holder of the title of fastest man on the planet, although even at his peak he never managed to win a gold medal at either the Olympics or the World Championships.

And although Bolt seems to hog most of the limelight now, Powell says he doesn’t mind and is just focused on trying to get back to the top.

"Bolt is the man right now so there’s definitely going to be questions about him, I don’t mind, I know what to say and how to answer those questions," he said.

"Being number one is good but number two is good as well, it’s how long you’re number two for (that matters), you have to really get yourself back to number one."

Bolt was looking more muscular on Tuesday and said he was hoping his new physique would help his times.

And Powell, who boasts a naturally powerful physique, concurred that bigger muscles help sprinters.

"I wasn’t looking so closely to see (Bolt’s muscles)," he joked. "But it’s always good to put on some muscles.

"Maybe he’s really using the gym right now and maybe that’s a good thing."

It won’t just be about Powell and Bolt on Thursday night as European champion Christophe Lemaitre, the first white man under 10sec, is hoping to have a say in proceedings.

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But he says he must improve on his start if he is to hang with the fastest guys.

"I’m in good shape and will try to run well and stay close to the best," he said.

"I want to keep up with everyone at the start so that I don’t get left behind like last year.

"In terms of time I’ll try to run in or around 10sec, or less if the conditions allow it.

"I’m a competitor and one day I hope to be amongst the best and of course to beat them."

The other main event of the night will be the twin-clash between Americans Allyson Felix, the 200m world champion, and Sanya Richards, the 400m winner from Berlin two years ago.

They will go head-to-head over both distances.

"I defintely think it’s going to be an extremely difficult double because of the amazing fields, not just Sanya," said Felix.

"The fields are stacked in both events. They’re difficult races, I want to challenge myself and it will really push me to work on my fitness."

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Richards added: "Most of the time you don’t have the 200m and 400m at the same meet.

"To have the opportunity to do that here is something I look forward to, I’m definitely excited to race Allyson in the 200m and 400m."

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