Justin Gatlin won what could be an early Olympic 100m preview at a meet in Gainesville, Florida, on Saturday.
Gatlin, the 2004 Olympic gold medalist and 2017 World champion, clocked 9.98 seconds at the Tom Jones Memorial Invitational at the University of Florida. Full results are here.
Gatlin, who in 2016 became the oldest man to win an Olympic 100m medal at age 34 (silver), broke 10 seconds in each of his first two meets this season.
In Tokyo, he can become the oldest man ever to earn an Olympic medal in any race on the track, according to Olympedia.org.
Gatlin beat a field on Saturday that included Canadian Andre De Grasse, the bronze medalist at the most recent Olympics and world championships, and Noah Lyles, the world 200m champion bidding to sweep the 100m and 200m in Tokyo.
De Grasse was second to Gatlin in 9.99. Lyles took fourth in 10.08 in his first race of the outdoor season.
That trio, plus resurgent American Trayvon Bromell (who raced the 200m in Gainesville), make up the group of Olympic gold-medal contenders.
Previously, Christian Coleman was the singular favorite to succeed the retired Usain Bolt. But Coleman, the world’s fastest man in 2017, 2018 and 2019, was suspended through the Tokyo Olympics for missing three drug tests in 2019.
The winner of the U.S. Olympic Trials in June will likely enter the Tokyo Games as the favorite.
In an earlier race for college runners, Florida State’s Jo’vaughn Martin ran 9.94 with slightly more tailwind than the pros had, equaling the world’s fastest time this year.
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