Gatlin beats Coleman to set up one final possible duel with Bolt

- Agence France-Presse, Sacramento

Jun 25, 2017-

Justin Gatlin stormed to victory in the 100m at the US world championship trials on Friday, upstaging rising star Christian Coleman and setting up the prospect of one final duel with Usain Bolt. 

The 35-year-old Gatlin turned on the gas in the final 20 meters at Sacramento’s Hornet Stadium to reel in Coleman for a convincing win in 9.95sec. “It was just a fighting moment,” Gatlin said of his victory. “It wasn’t the spectacular time that you’ve seen me run in the past couple of years. But it was a time that I needed to fight. I had to make sure I was right there with him at the end and try and hold on with experience.” 

Coleman, 21, had been tipped as the likeliest US rival to Bolt at August’s World Championships after clocking the fastest time in the world this year, a blistering 9.82sec. But Coleman — who earlier had inked a seven-figure sponsorship deal with Nike — was put firmly in his place by Gatlin, finishing in 9.98sec. Christopher Belcher was third in 10.06sec. Asked if he felt Gatlin still ‘had it’, Coleman replied: “He never lost it!”

“I was just honored to be in the race and I’m looking forward to many more,” Coleman said. Gatlin meanwhile was left delighted after clinching his ticket to London — and another potential showdown with Bolt. “It feels great,” said Gatlin, who has registered only one victory over Bolt in his career. 

In the women’s 100m, Tori Bowie swept to a comfortable win in 10.94 ahead of Deajah Stevens and Ariana Washington. Allyson Felix, the reigning world 400m champion, finished in last place. Meanwhile in the men’s triple jump, reigning Olympic and world champion Christian Taylor — who only needed to turn up in Sacramento this week to cash in a wildcard place — intentionally fouled on his only leap of the competition. Taylor, who is based in the Netherlands, defended his decision not to effectively compete. 

“It’s unfortunate,” Taylor said. “Every time I want to come out to the track I want to compete and put on a show. But this time I have to be smart. I have to focus on being healthy.” In the women’s high jump, teenager Vashti Cunningham, the world indoor champion and daughter of former NFL star Randall Cunningham, posted a jump of 1.99m to clinch her place in London. 

Published: 25-06-2017 10:01

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