In a year when drug cheats made the headlines for the wrong reasons with Justin Gatlin and Tim Montgomery banned, Jamaica's Asafa Powell took centre stage in men's sprinting.
When injury knocked him out of the World Championships in 2005, he set out to prove that he was the finest sprinter in the world, an accolade which he indisputably earned in 2006.
After winning the 100 metres gold medal in the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne in March, he twice equalled his own world record of 9.77 secs at Gateshead in June and Zurich in August, and won at each of the six Golden League meetings during the summer.
The name Asafa means ‘rising to the occasion' and during the year he went under 10 seconds for the 100 metres a record 12 times and remained unbeaten in all 16 finals he contested. In total Powell has run under 10 seconds 25 times in his career. In November he was named 2006 IAAF Athlete of the Year.
Unlike many of his compatriots, Powell decided against moving to the United States to further his career and continues to train in Kingston, Jamaica where he often runs on grass wearing ‘flats' (non spiked running shoes).
Powell was one of the gold medal favourites for the 2004 Olympic 100 metres, after clocking sub-10 seconds nine times in the season. However, he finished a disappointing fifth in the Athens final. The following year, he gained some consolation by breaking the 100 metres world record, with 9.77 secs for the first time in Athens on June 14, 2005.