Words by Nina Jankowicz for OCEAN Style Magazine.
Photography by William Richards for OCEAN Style Magazine.

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It’s not every world record holder that has the ability to effortlessly connect with his fans as if they were lifelong friends, letting them get a glimpse of his true colors and off-the-track personality. But Asafa Powell does just that; it turns out the third fastest man in the world actually leads a fairly introspective lifestyle, embodying the spirit of his native Jamaica with his personal motto, “always laid back and chillaxing.”

The 30 year old Powell, standing over six feet tall and 190 pounds, is often referred to as a “gentle giant.” He is no stranger to the most famous tracks of the world, having competed at the 2004, 2008 and 2012 Olympic Games, garnering a gold medal finish for his participation in Team Jamaica’s 4×100 meter relay in Beijing. He has won five gold medals IAAF World Athletics Championships, where he set a world record for the 100 meter sprint.

Though Powell has a need for speed on the track, where he has completed 88 sub-10 second 100 meter races, more than any other person in history, as well as on the road, where he loves to drive and work on high-end race cars and aspired to be a mechanic before taking up running, in truth the majority of Powell’s life is more low-key than one would expect from a three-time Olympian and former World Record holder. Powell was born in Spanish Town, Jamaica, in a large family that consisted of his parents, both pastors, and six brothers. The faith his parents bestowed on him governs his interactions to this day, allowing him to stay humble and down-to-earth in the face of immense media attention. While other athletes are prone to theatrics, Powell always seems calm and composed when under the world’s scrutiny.

Powell’s faith gave him courage in life’s darkest moments. He lost one of his brothers, Michael, to a gunshot wound in 2002, and another, Vaughn, to natural causes a year later. Both tragedies struck just before Powell was to compete national trials and championships, and he cites his faith as the solace and strength in the face of grief. His faith is still his motivation; while other athletes might listen to a pump-up song before a big race, Powell repeats the verse “I can do all things through Christ who gives me the strength” to himself before taking his place at the starting line. His favorite song, the gospel standard “Lord Walk Beside Me,” similarly reflects his spirituality.

Powell, now 30, had to battle his share of injuries in the past few years, and showed much maturity and foresight in deciding to compete more lightly this season. To fill his newfound free time, Powell volunteers with children’s sports clinics, which he refers to as “the best part of the job,” a statement that reveals this Olympian’s true self; for Asafa Powell, it’s not about the medals or the glory. It’s about connecting with people, whether in person or online, and inspiring them to discover their own greatness.

Read the article in OCEAN Style Magazine.

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