Justin Gatlin stays perfect for 2014 in Rome

Justin Gatlin

Justin Gatlin extended his unblemished record this year by winning the 100m in 9.91 seconds at a Diamond League meet in Rome on Thursday night.

Gatlin, the reigning Olympic bronze medalist and World silver medalist, beat a field that didn’t include top rivals Usain BoltYohan Blake and Tyson Gay. Nobody else broke 10 seconds at Stadio Olimpico, where Gatlin beat Bolt by .01 of a second last year.

Gatlin now owns the three fastest legal 100m times of 2014, according to the IAAF.

The Diamond League moves to Oslo on Wednesday. Blake is entered in the following Diamond League meet on June 14 in New York. Bolt isn’t scheduled to debut this year until June 17 in the Czech Republic.

Gatlin is scheduled to race against Gay at a Diamond League meet on July 3 in Lausanne, Switzerland, in Gay’s first race in more than one year as he returns from a doping suspension.

In other events Thursday, American Tori Bowie backed up her shock 200m victory at last Saturday’s Prefontaine Classic by crossing first in the 100m. Bowie, a long jumper at the World Indoor Championships in March, prevailed in 11.05, a personal best by .05.

Jamaican Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, the reigning Olympic and World champion, lacked her usual spark and finished eighth in 11.19. Fraser-Pryce also took eighth at the Prefontaine Classic 200m and said after she arrived in Rome that she had a leg problem.

World champion Brianna Rollins was victorious in her Diamond League debut, taking the 100m hurdles in 12.53, the fastest time in the world this year. She edged 2008 Olympic champion Dawn Harper-Nelson by .01. London Olympic champion Sally Pearson pulled out before the start.

The most anticipated field event was the men’s high jump, where Qatar’s Mutaz Essa Barshim cleared 2.41m for the win. Both Barshim and Ukraine World champion Bohdan Bondarenko failed all three attempts at 2.43m, which would have been the highest clearance since Javier Sotomayor set his 2.45m world record in 1993.

South African Caster Semenya was a disappointing 10th in the 800m, nowhere near the form that took her to Olympic silver two years ago.

Likewise, Kenyan World champion Asbel Kiprop was unimpressive in the 1500m, losing by 1.55 seconds to countryman Silas Kiplagat while running under threat from Athletics Kenya.

LaShawn Merritt took the 400m in 44.48, unchallenged with rival Kirani James absent.

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