Justin Gatlin

Justin Gatlin runs fastest 100m of 2014, wins 200m an hour later (video)

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Justin Gatlin pulled off one of the greatest sprint doubles in a short time frame ever Friday, winning a 100m in 9.77 seconds and a 200m in 19.71 with about an hour between races in Brussels on Friday.

Gatlin’s victory in the 100m was a personal-best time at the final Diamond League meet of the season.

It’s also the fastest time in the world this year, bettering Gatlin’s 9.80 from earlier. Gatlin remained undefeated for 2014. The 9.77 also matched Usain Bolt‘s winning time from the 2013 World Championships.

Gatlin finished second to Bolt at 2013 Worlds and third behind Bolt and Yohan Blake at the 2012 Olympics after winning the 2004 Olympic title and sitting out four years due to a doping ban.

Bolt ran two 100m races this season, after getting a late start due to foot surgery, clocking a best of 9.98 before shutting it down for the year. Bolt said he didn’t think he would beat a Gatlin-at-his-best this year, given the Jamaican’s lack of training and racing this year.

Gatlin has run 9.77 before, matching the world record in 2006. But that time was later erased due to his doping suspension.

American Mike Rodgers was second to Gatlin in 9.93 on Friday. Former world record holder Asafa Powell was third in 9.95. Tyson Gay was sixth in 10.01. (full results here)

Gatlin’s victory in the 200m, not his primary event, was faster than any other man has run this year. Gatlin ran 19.68 earlier this year. Bolt, who didn’t run the 200m this year, won the 2013 World Championship in 19.66.

In other events Friday, Allyson Felix won the 200m in 22.02, the fastest time in the world this year. Felix also shaved .32 off her fastest time of 2014, a comeback year for the Olympic champion who suffered a torn hamstring in the 2013 World Championships 200m final.

Olympic champion Sanya Richards-Ross won the 400m in 49.98, a half-second slower than countrywoman Francena McCorory‘s fastest time in the world this year from June. McCorory was seventh in 51.44 in Friday’s race.

Qatar’s Mutaz Barshim and Ukraine’s Bohdan Bondarenko took a combined five attempts at breaking the high jump world record and failed on all of them. Barshim won the competition with a 2.43m clearance, making him the second best man of all time in the event. Cuba’s Javier Sotomayor set the 2.45m world record in 1993.

Algeria’s Taoufik Makhloufi edged Kenyan Silas Kiplagat in the 1500m by .02. Both men celebrated prematurely, though Kiplagat had reason to given second place was enough to win the Diamond League season title in the event.

Galen Rupp, whose best events are the 5000m and 10,000m, was 11th in 3:34.15, a personal best. Olympic silver medalist Leo Manzano was last among 15 finishers.

Evan Jager broke his U.S. record in the 3000m steeplechase by 2.1 seconds, clocking 8:04.71 for third place.

Americans Jenny Simpson and Shannon Rowbury finished fourth and fifth in personal-best times in the 3000m behind Kenyan winner Mercy Cherono.

France’s Renaud Lavillenie cleared 5.93m to take the pole vault, the highest clearance in the world this year.

France’s Pascal Martinot-Lagarde won the 110m hurdles in 13.08. Olympic champion and world record holder Aries Merritt was seventh in 13.37. Merritt hasn’t run faster than 13.27 this year during which he’s dealt with a reported hamstring injury.

New Zealand’s Valerie Adams extended her shot put winning streak, which is at more than 50 dating to 2010, with a 20.59m throw, the best in the world this year.

Usain Bolt talks Olympic history, racing in the U.S., more in Q&A

Amy Cragg to withdraw from U.S. Olympic marathon trials

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Defending champion Amy Cragg will miss the Feb. 29 U.S. Olympic marathon trials with an illness, according to her social media.

“The Trials are the reason I have shown up every day for the last four years, so this has been an extremely difficult decision,” was posted on her social media. Cragg later said she had Epstein-Barr virus, according to multiple reports.

Cragg, 36, was among the favorites to grab three Olympic spots at trials in Atlanta, despite not having competed over 26.2 miles since the February 2018 Tokyo Marathon.

She withdrew from the 2018 Chicago Marathon with a hamstring injury and also scratched a month before the 2019 Chicago Marathon, citing signs pointing to needing more time after the previous year’s injury.

Cragg, fourth at the 2012 Olympic trials, relegated Des Linden and Shalane Flanagan to second and third at the 2016 trials. Linden and Flanagan went on to win the Boston and New York City Marathons, respectively, ending long U.S. women’s victory droughts.

Cragg went on to finish ninth in Rio and earn a 2017 World bronze medal, the first world championships marathon podium finish for an American woman since the first worlds in 1983.

Cragg could still make the Tokyo Olympic team in the 10,000m if she races at track trials in June. She won the 2012 Olympic trials 10,000m but hasn’t raced the distance on the track since May 2017.

“Right now my only goal is to get healthy so that I can train at the level needed to be competitive,” Cragg said in an emailed message from her agent. “That being said, the reason I am still in this sport is because of the Olympic Trials and Olympics. It is what excites me more than anything, so it is something I would still love to do.”

With Cragg absent and Flanagan retired, Linden is the only woman in next week’s field with Olympic marathon experience.

Other favorites include Olympic 10,000m runner Molly Huddle, world championships 10,000m runner Emily Sisson and Jordan Hasay, the second-fastest U.S. female marathoner in history.

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Galen Rupp, after tumult, finds familiarity before Olympic marathon trials

Galen Rupp
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As Galen Rupp bids for a fourth Olympics, and perhaps become the first man or woman to win the Olympic marathon trials twice outright, he found some rare familiarity these days on the roads Feb. 8.

“Feeling like my old self again,” Rupp said Wednesday of winning a low-key half marathon in Mesa, Ariz., his first completed race in 16 months and since parting from now-banned, career-long coach Alberto Salazar. “It’s obviously been a long year and a half.”

Rupp clocked 61 minutes, 19 seconds on a downhill course. It’s faster than any half marathon by an American recorded by World Athletics since the start of 2019. Granted the downhill, but Rupp also said he was instructed by new coach Mike Smith to make it a controlled effort.

“He didn’t want me to run all-out, didn’t want me to really push and put myself in a big hole,” Rupp said, noting he was still in heavy training. “You don’t want to break that [training] up and put yourself in a deficit by having a massive effort.”

Mesa answered questions about Rupp’s readiness for the Olympic trials in Atlanta on Feb. 29 (NBC, 12-3 p.m. ET). Even to the two-time Olympic medalist himself. Rupp said he started the half marathon with a little bit of doubt — given recent left ankle and calf injuries — but felt early on that everything would be fine.

“It really put my mind at ease,” he said. “I’m going to be good for the marathon.”

His last two marathons did not go well.

At the 2018 Chicago Marathon, Rupp dropped from the leaders around mile 19 and finished fifth in a title defense. An Achilles injury flared up near the end. He underwent surgery later that month for two tears. Doctors said the ankle had been “a ticking time bomb.”

“They said I was really lucky to have as good of health as I had and manage it as I did,” Rupp said.

He went a full year before racing again, at the Chicago Marathon on Oct. 13, 12 days after Salazar’s ban was announced. Even that was a rushed comeback, Rupp said after dropping out around mile 23 with a calf injury.

“I’m not going to say it was a wake-up call,” Rupp said, “but I think I was a little bit stubborn before Chicago.”

Rupp said he ran through pain in training to get to the start line four months ago. He had trouble walking for several days after the abbreviated race and focused on physical therapy for about two months. He resumed normal, pain-free training in December.

By early January, Runner’s World reported that Oregon-based Rupp found a new Flagstaff-based coach in Smith, who leads a Northern Arizona University program that won the last three NCAA men’s cross-country titles.

“The biggest thing to me was Mike’s philosophy in coaching was very similar to the program that I was under for so many years,” said Rupp, who was for more than a decade part of the Nike Oregon Project, which was shut down last fall after Salazar’s ban for doping violations (which he appealed). Rupp wasn’t implicated by USADA and has a clean drug-testing record. “What I love most about it was Mike’s honesty and how forthright he was about everything. You could tell he wasn’t just saying what I wanted to hear or say, ‘We’re just going to do whatever you’ve been doing and try and replicate that.’ You’ve got to keep evolving and trying new things.”

Smith declined an interview request through NAU until after trials. He agreed to coach Rupp after about a month of communication and hard questions, according to Runner’s World.

“Because of its timing and the headlines I was reading like everyone else at the time, this was not a road I wanted to go down,” Smith said, according to the report. “To be honest, it was just easiest to turn it down. I’m actually — as crazy as this sounds — really proud I did not.

“What I found out by getting to know Galen was that there was much more going on than the picture portrayed of him, and I wish the world knew that. I have never seen someone more all-in in my life.”

Rupp, asked his toughest moment of the last two years, said he moves forward.

“Throughout any hardships and setbacks, I felt a lot of gratitude that I had as good of a run as I did with my health and everything going well for as long as I did,” he said. “It can be easy to get angry and get down, like why me, but I do believe that things always work out. There’s a reason behind all this stuff.”

Which brings Rupp to Atlanta next week for the first time in his life, aside from airport layovers. The race is unlike any other he has contested. The course is unusually hilly. The format — Americans only, top three make the Olympic team — makes for different tactics than the World Marathon Majors that Rupp is used to.

In 2016, Rupp entered as a favorite but without any marathon experience. He won convincingly, pulling away from now-retired Meb Keflezighi by 68 seconds.

The field is deeper this year. Seven Americans broke 2:11 in 2019. Only one did in 2015. But Rupp, at his best, is in his own class.

His personal best 2:06:07, from his last healthy marathon in 2018, is 1:49 faster than the second-fastest in the trials field in this Olympic cycle (Leonard Korir). The next-fastest, Scott Fauble, is more than three minutes behind by personal bests.

“I can confidently go in and say that I’ve put in the work for this, just like I know that I put in the work in 2016,” Rupp said. “Of course, you want to go in and have good races, feeling confident and being on a roll like I was several years ago. But I think that’s why that race in Mesa was so important to show, more to myself, that hey, you’re ready to go. You can still run well. You haven’t lost everything. Surgery didn’t wipe you out.”

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