At the 29th Olympiad in Beijing, China, in August 2008, triple World Championship gold medalist Tyson Gay was expected to resume his rivalry with Usain Bolt. The year before at the World Championships in Osaka, Japan,  Gay defeated Asafa Powell to take the 100-metre title in 9.85s. It was his first victory over Asafa Powell, who had been the favorite to win his first global title. Gay then returned to defeat a certain Usain Bolt over the 200 metres and then landed his third gold medal as the United States won the men’s sprint relay but only just over a galant Jamaican team.

2008 was to have been Gay’s encore, but as fate would have it, in May that year Usain Bolt stormed to a world-leading 9.76s over the 100 metres at the Jamaica Invitational and then a couple weeks later shattered Powell’s world record of 9.74, running 9.72s in rainy conditions at the Icahn Stadium in New York. Gay was second in 9.85s, the same time he ran in Osaka the year before. It would turn out to be a disappointing year for the triple world championship gold medalist because while Bolt was just beginning his period of dominance, Gay would hit a host of hurdles during the year that saw him struggle at the US trials, barely made his way back in time for the Olympic Games but could only advance as far as the semi-finals.

Bolt would go on to dominate the Olympic games winning three gold medals while setting three world records along the way. Gay however, would return and though not completely free from injury, proceeded to have one of his best years in the Bolt era. Unbeknownst to many, Gay had been struggling with a groin injury for a while. Whenever he ran it would be with the greatest of discomfort but he did anyway and ran really fast. Gay ran consistently fast in 2009 producing his two best times later in the season 9.71s for second at the World Championships and then 9.69s aided by the maximum allowable wind in Shanghai in September that year. Those times made him the fastest American ever, but still not good enough to defeat Bolt.

Ever the competitor Gay took the risk of undergoing surgery to repair his damaged groin in the hope that he would be fit enough to get closer to Bolt. The former Razorback returned from hip surgery in 2010 to record a season best 9.78s (-0.4m/s) in London in less than perfect conditions and defeated Bolt in Stockholm. Yes, Bolt was not at his best but still, he lost to Gay.

2011 saw Gay deliver another fast time 9.79 in Clermont, Florida, but sadly, he missed the World Championships in 2011, again because of injury; this time his hip.

I say all this to say that Asafa Powell, one of the fastest men of all time, but who has recently been relegated to number three all time in Jamaica, after Yohan Blake dropped 9.69s in Lausanne, announced recently that he has opted not to do surgery on a groin injury that has done nothing but blunt his career since 2005. Since that time, that groin injury that has given rise to yet another injury to the sprinter’s groin, has also caused Powell to miss medal opportunities at the World Championships in Daegu, South Korea, in 2011 and again in London this year.

The injury has also worked to lessen the value of his brand as for a third straight Olympiad, Powell has failed to win an individual medal. This latest time, too, there was no consolation relay gold as he was unable to participate as a member of the world record setting sprint relay squad.

Powell argued that he does not feel the surgery will guarantee that he will run faster. Yes, but that does not say that it wont. The Tyson Gay example I cited above is proof of what can happen after groin surgery. I can appreciate Asafa’s fear about going under the knife but its not like he is a stranger to surgery. He underwent successful shoulder a few years ago so he knows the benefit of corrective surgery. Besides, have you ever heard of anyone who approaches surgery without even a modicum of fear?

Ultimately it’s his decision to make but this is a man who says he wants to be around for the Games in Rio in 2016. By then he will be four years older and less likely to recover from any subsequent groin injury he may experience between now and that time.

In fact, I would venture to say that if he sticks to his decision not to undergo the surgery Asafa could find himself unable to compete in Rio or not even last that long. In an age where there is already a successor to Bolt’s crown as the world’s greatest sprinter and with so many young talented sprinters like Kemar Bailey Cole emerging, Asafa is going to be hard pressed over the next few years to hold onto his current number three ranking and number four all time. He might not see it the way I do, but logic would dictate that surgery is his best shot at remaining relevant over time as one of the fastest men in history.

His management, who I don’t believe has served  him well enough over the years, need to sit down with the man who has run faster than 10 seconds more than anyone else in history, and discuss the pros and cons of surgery. Speak to people like Gay, who returned him hip surgery to run 9.80s in the Olympic final this past summer, about the benefits of the surgery and let him understand that ultimately, his legacy depends on him ending his career well. Without the surgery he might not have much of a legacy left when he finally decides to walk away.

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  1. Marcel Prendergast says:

    I agree with the author of this article, Asafa, his family and his management team should really consider this option. What Asafa needs is permanent relief from injury. Should he not think so, it will be to his disadvantage.

  2. Stefhany Rosalda Swire says:

    Asafa Powell is an intelligent man who has travelled worldwide. There are specialists to speak with, and obtain 2,3 or 4 opinions worldwide. There has been other top notch athletes who have had surgery and returned as good as or better than before.

    If Asafa does not TRUST THE OPINIONS of those whom he pays, then he needs to get rid of them.

    Asafa, do the dam surgery now. Your situation can only get worse without the surgery, NOT BETTER.

    Day by day YOU become older….your body becomes less ameniable to surgery and full recuperation. You need to consider your $$$$ future.

    I thought you were a smart guy. Obviously prayer has not helped. WISE UP YOUNG MAN. Make hay while the sun shines.

    I saw somewhere recently that you had decided to have the surgery. I hope you followed through with that decision.

    If you had the surgery after 2009 World Games, possibly you would have garnered 2 medals in 2012 Olympics..surely one would have been GOLD.

  3. TrevDiMan says:

    I wrote a post on FaceBook in which I also posited that Asafa should have corrective groin surgery if he wishes to be relevant in track and field. As things stand right now, Asafa is seen a ‘club’ sprinter, so to speak. He no longer is seen one of those sprinters that rises to the occasion in the meets that matter the most – the Olympics and the World Track and Field Championships. I am in agreement with your comparison to Tyson also having that surgery and has come back better than ever. While there is no guarantee that if Asafa were to corrective groin surgery he may not be as before he can’t guarantee he won’t be better than before if he were not to have it.

  4. A well-written piece of advise! I also agree that Asafa’s Management team have not served him as best as they ought to over the years and, I frankly believe they have used him for their own selfish gains. At the end of the day Asafa is an adult and should be allowed to make his decisions regarding opting for surgery or not. Whatever his final choice is, I am one who will always support and appreciate him for what he has done for himself and by extention, our great country JAMAICA. One love SAAAAFA, BIG up everytime!!!

  5. Jakan says:

    True wud. Asafa needs a different management team.

  6. Plain truth says:

    Make up your mind. Was it the groin or hip that Tyson Gay injured.

    Why assume that his injury is in any way comparable to Asafa’s???

    Here is what one sympathetic US fan posted elsewhere:

    I realize Denty is a physician so he should know…but we’ve been hearing “groin” all this time when really it is the iliopsoas. I have personally experienced this injury. Initial injury was in high school, again in college track and finally in masters’ track.

    The muscle itself is not palpable so treatment such as direct massage is difficult. Denty, keep me honest here but the origin (or is it insertion?) point is front, just below and inside of pelvic bone. The insertion(?) point is lower back / upper glute area at roughly the waistline. And it hurts like hell.

    I really feel for Asafa. The iliopsoas is difficult to treat and even harder to heal, if it ever does. I didn’t realize surgery was an option given how this muscle traverses the pelvic/iliochus regions however I now understand why he doesn’t want to do it.

    Given his career to date and his standing in the JAM track firmament he should say to hell with medals and to hell with running 9.6 seconds. Run 9.8s on the circuit when he feels like it, take fees for as long as he decides to and ride into the sunset a wealthy young man.

  7. Sherryleen says:

    If Asafa had changed camp to Racers and being trained by the Universe Legendry Coach Glen Mills, his career and mental state would not be as it is today. A regretable and unfortunate situation for a “Gentleman” who put us on the map as a sprint nation.His management team and MVP have destroyed some of our best athletes Melaine Walker is another example of poor management. It just shows how tribalism and politics have stagnated this very rich and beautiful country..Jamaica land of beauty!

  8. Lannate says:

    Per author,
    “Gay would later run 9.69 seconds aided by the maximum allowable wind in Shanghai later that year. So that was 9.71 and 9.69 after groin surgery,….”

    Really, I thought Gay’s 9.69 was “before” groin surgery. During the Olympics Gay withdrew out of the 200m meter,hinting groin injury, after getting beaten by Bolt in the 100m. A fews after the Olympics Gay would run a 9.69 in the 100m. This was what the whole debate was all about. How can Gay run a 9.69m with a bad groin but did not have the nerve to face Bolt in the 200m.

  9. levyl says:

    Lanate, you are correct. I got my timelines mixed up and I apologize for the error. Gay did however, run 9.78 into a -0.4 wind in 2010 and 9.79 in 2011. Those times came after the groin surgery. However, my initial timeline was incorrect and again I apologize.

  10. PlainTruth says:


    Please explain how MVP has “destroyed” Melaine Walker! How on earth can you reconcile that she was title-less before going to MVP and has since run the Oly recoed, the 2nd fastest time ever and held the Oly and World titles back to back, and even got silver in Daegu coming off an injury-riddled season???

    You talk about tribalism but are willing to pit Racers vs MVP!! Racers, like MVP is great, but not ever runner will max their potential at either place due to circumstances. Rose, Anderson, Waugh, Barnes, Chambers, Markino Buckley, Nyoka Cole, Sunita, etc are just some names that have not had the sterling success we all had hoped for.

    Despite that BOTH camps have done wonders for T&F in jamaica and we need to stop the tear-down mentality. Thank goodness for Mills and Francis!

  11. Mike says:

    Gay did however, run 9.78 into a -0.4 wind in 2010 and 9.79 in 2011. Those times came after the groin surgery.


    And his 9.78 was actually a better race than his Pb 9.69. and Tyson is still a sub 9.80 sprinter so he has proved you can make a comeback and be just as good.

  12. MG says:

    @Plain truth

    Tyson Gay had two surgeries. He had the first surgery on his groin AFTER running 9.69, following a defeat at the World Championships in Berlin. He could barely walk and he didn’t really have a choice. I think he would have had to retire without the surgery.

    In 2011, Gay had a second surgery – this time on his hip. So far, he has not returned to 9.7 form, but he only started training in March. Maybe with a full off-season of preparation he could run 9.7 next summer.

    There is a risk to surgery, as with anything. The outcomes are not always good.

  13. richard says:

    If Asafa doesnt win a world title in his career he will always be regarded as class act for me, Asafa, you are a true ambassador for Jamaica, the surgery is your decision,get the advise required to make your decision going forward.Might i add,most of Jamaica (I THINK) is looking forward to seeing you at your best in the coming years on the track.
    Even RACERS TRACK will admit that.

  14. Debbie says:

    All these comments and advice. Do we even know why he hasn’t received a permanent solution to his groin injury. Do we know if it is not something he has considered and why he hasn’t completed it yet. Do we know anything other than he suffers from a groin injury?

  15. levyl says:

    yes, we do.

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15 comments so far
levyl Posted by: levyl August 30, 2012 at 10:51 am