Justin Gatlin said his coach is training him “like Mike Tyson” in the Olympic year. Gatlin continued to knock out all non-Usain Bolt opponents in his first Diamond League race of 2016 on Saturday.
The World silver medalist won a 100m in 9.94 seconds in Shanghai (video), topping a field that didn’t include Bolt or World bronze medalists Trayvon Bromell or Andre De Grasse.
Gatlin was slowed by a severely rolled ankle in the fall but looked smooth — if not especially fast — to move to 30-2 in outdoor 100m and 200m events since the start of 2014, according to Tilastopaja.org.
Those two defeats were stinging, runner-ups to Bolt in the 100m and 200m at the World Championships last August.
It took Gatlin plenty of time to get over those losses, but he sounded ultra confident after prevailing in Shanghai on Saturday.
“[My coach] is training me like Mike Tyson to knock out the opposition and keep swinging,” Gatlin said, according to the IAAF.
Gatlin’s time of 9.94 paled in comparison to his 9.74 in his Diamond League opener last year, run with a .9 m/s tailwind.
Bolt, who had an ankle injury of his own in the winter, will race for the first time since Worlds later Saturday in a 100m in the Cayman Islands.
In other Shanghai events, Olympic and World champion and world-record holder David Rudisha was passed for the lead in the final straightaway of the 800m and faded to fifth (video).
Rudisha was not set when the starter’s gun went off and dawdled his first few strides, raising his arms and looking from side to side in confusion as an official had to back out of the lane to his outside about 10 meters ahead of him.
An upset Rudisha estimated he lost two seconds due to the premature start, according to the IAAF.
“There were high jumpers in the lane, and they start,” Rudisha said.
Fellow Kenyans swept the top three, while U.S. champion Nick Symmonds was 10th of 11 finishers in his first race since August, running with tape over a temporary T-Mobile tattoo on his right shoulder due to IAAF sponsor regulations.
Olympic champion Aries Merritt was disqualified from the 110m hurdles for having too quick of a reaction time, an unwelcome obstacle in his comeback from a Sept. 1 kidney transplant. Jamaican Omar McLeod won in 12.98 seconds, the fastest time in the world this year.
The Bahamas’ Shaunae Miller took the 400m. Miller ran an unimpressive 50.45 but remains the fastest woman in the world this year (49.69 from April 16) and the top rival to World champion Allyson Felix.
The 2011 World champion Jenny Simpson finished sixth in the 1500m, 7.74 seconds behind Kenyan winner Faith Kipyegon.
Sam Kendricks became the first U.S. man to win a Diamond League pole vault competition, clearing a personal-best 5.88 meters to upset Olympic champion Renaud Lavillenie of France. Kendricks, 23, was the top American at 2015 Worlds in ninth place.
World champion Joe Kovacs was upset in the shot put by fellow American Kurt Roberts. Kovacs’ top throw was 20.82 meters. Roberts launched 21.40, which was .07 off his personal best.
Roberts is now in the mix for one of three spots on the Olympic team with Kovacs and Olympic medalists Reese Hoffa and Christian Cantwell, among others.
The Diamond League continues with a meet in Rabat, Morocco, on May 22.