Justin Gatlin ran the fastest 100m in the world since August 2012 in the season-opening Diamond League meet in Doha on Friday.
And he thinks he can go faster.
Gatlin clocked 9.74 seconds with a .9 m/s tailwind (anything under 2.0 is legal), continuing his hot form from an undefeated 2014 (full meet results here). The 2004 Olympic champion knocked .03 off his personal best, at 33 years old and five years removed from a four-year doping ban.
“My coach said come out and make a statement this season,” Gatlin said on beIN Sport. “I don’t know what everybody’s thinking, but I definitely can go faster. Towards the end of the race, my legs felt a little twingey. … My hamstring has been a little twingey for, like, the last half a week. I’ve had them worked on by my therapist.”
The time dwarfs Usain Bolt‘s only 100m of 2015, a 10.12 into a headwind last month. Gatlin and Bolt haven’t gone head to head since 2013 and might not do so again until the World Championships in Beijing in August.
“That was for him [Bolt],” Gatlin said of his 9.74, according to The Associated Press.
In other events Friday, Allyson Felix won a 200m in 21.98, the fastest time in the world since Felix’s 21.88 to capture Olympic gold in 2012, and the fastest she’s ever run this early in a year. Felix tore a hamstring in the 2013 World Championships final and came back to run 22.02 on Sept. 5, previously the fastest time since the London Olympics. Felix, 29, has said she’s focusing on the 200m and the 400m this season leading up to the World Championships in Beijing in August.
“The schedule doesn’t really allow to do two [both the 200m and 400m at Worlds],” Felix said in an IAAF interview after her race. “I’ll make a decision. I have to see what happens at Nationals first [in June].”
At Worlds, the women’s 200m semifinals and 400m final are separated by 70 minutes.
Felix’s top recent challengers in the 200m, including Jamaican Olympic champion Veronica Campbell-Brown and World champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, were not in the Doha field.
Olympic and World 5000m and 10,000m champion Mo Farah was beaten in a 3000m race by Ethiopian Hagos Gebrhiwet by .14.
American Jasmin Stowers won the 100m hurdles in 12.35, making her the third-fastest American of all time behind 2013 World champion Brianna Rollins (12.26) and retired three-time World champion Gail Devers (12.33).
Stowers has run 12.40 or faster three times since April 25 after coming into the year with a personal best of 12.71. She defeated the last two Olympic champions in Doha — Sally Pearson (fourth, 12.69) and Dawn Harper-Nelson (eighth, 13.24).
In the 400m, Francena McCorory defeated countrywoman and Olympic champion Sanya Richards-Ross, 50.21 to 50.79. The two fastest women in the world last year, Richards-Ross had handed McCorory a similar sounding defeat in Kingston, Jamaica, on Saturday, with a faster 49.95.
Richards-Ross said she had the flu and didn’t sleep the night before, according to the meet website.
Bershawn Jackson won the 400m hurdles in 48.09 seconds, the fastest time in the world this year. Jackson, 32, took bronze at the 2008 Olympics, then missed the 2012 Olympic team and fell in the 2013 World Championships semifinals. He was the third-fastest American in the event in 2014.
Jackson defeated the fastest man in the world from last year, Puerto Rico’s Javier Culson, by .87. The fastest American each of the last three years, Olympic and World silver medalist Michael Tinsley, was not in the Doha field.
In the triple jump, Cuba’s Pedro Pablo Pichardo and U.S. Olympic champion Christian Taylor became the fourth and fifth men to break the 18-meter barrier all time. Pichardo prevailed with an 18.06m jump to Taylor’s 18.04m.
France’s World triple jump champion Teddy Tamgho tweeted that he ruptured an Achilles’ tendon, which likely ends his chances of defending his title in Beijing.
Olympic and World champion Brittney Reese finished fifth in the long jump, won by countrywoman Tianna Bartoletta.
German two-time reigning World champion David Storl took the shot put over, in order, Americans Reese Hoffa, Ryan Whiting and Joe Kovacs.
The Diamond League continues with the second of 14 meets this season in Shanghai on Sunday.
Video: Ashton Eaton’s signature now on his high school track
*Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated there were two days between the women’s 400m and women’s 200m at the World Championships.