Justin Gatlin nearly lost to a countryman for the first time since 2013 at a Diamond League meet in Rome on Thursday.
Gatlin, the reigning World 100m and 200m silver medalist, won a 100m in the Italian capital in 9.93 seconds, edging Ameer Webb by .01.
Gatlin moved to 33-0 in competitions not including Usain Bolt since the start of 2014, according to Tilastopaja.org, but his time was much slower than his 9.75 in Rome last year, continuing an unimpressive overall start relative to 2015.
“I want to start slow and then progress steadily,” Gatlin said, according to the IAAF.
Webb extended his torrid start to 2016 by nearly sweeping the 200m and 100m in 80 minutes on Thursday. The 26-year-old who has never made an Olympic or World Championships team won the 200m in 20.04 seconds and came back to nearly upset Gatlin.
Webb came to Rome already owning two of the three fastest 200m times in the world this year. His 100m personal best set Thursday ranks him No. 4 in the world in that event this year.
Another U.S. sprinter, World 100m co-bronze medalist Trayvon Bromell, is under greater scrutiny after finishing seventh in the 200m behind Webb on Thursday. Following a breakout 2015, Bromell has not put up any 100m or 200m times this year that would make him a favorite to make the Olympic team individually, though he still has one month before the Olympic Trials.
Also Thursday, controversial South African Caster Semenya matched her fastest time in the world this year in winning the 800m in 1:56.64. In typical style this spring, Semenya took the lead with a little less than 100 meters to go and quickly opened up a large gap. She won by a comfortable 1.56 seconds.
“I did a lot of traveling with very little rest,” Semenya said, according to the IAAF. “I am trying to keep up the shape. It is not easy.”
Ethiopian World champion Almaz Ayana won the 5000m with the second-fastest time ever — 14:12.59 — 1.44 seconds off Tirunesh Dibaba‘s world record from 2008.
In the long jump, Olympic champion Greg Rutherford of Great Britain held off Buffalo Bills wide receiver Marquise Goodwin. Rutherford leaped 8.31 meters to Goodwin’s 8.19 meters, but Goodwin still has the best jump in the world this year at 8.45 meters from May 14.
Jamaican Elaine Thompson won the 100m in 10.87 seconds, with American English Gardner taking second in 10.92. American Tori Bowie owns the fastest time in the world this year at 10.80, while Olympic and World champion Shelly Ann-Fraser-Pryce has been slowed by a toe injury. Neither Bowie nor Fraser-Pryce was in the Rome field.
World champion Wayde van Niekerk won the 400m in 44.19 seconds against a field that did not include the last two Olympic champions, Kirani James and LaShawn Merritt. James is fastest this year with a 44.08 from April 29.
Colombian triple jumper Caterine Ibarguen extended the longest winning streak in the sport with her 34th straight victory since taking silver at the London Games, according to Tilastopaja.org.
The Diamond League continues with a meet in Birmingham, Great Britain, on Sunday.