Fred Kerley edges Michael Norman in USATF Golden Games classic

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Fred Kerley, the Olympic 100m silver medalist, ran down former 400m rival Michael Norman to win the men’s 200m, the marquee event of the USATF Golden Games at Mt. SAC in California on Saturday.

Kerley, who turned heads last year by moving from the 400m to the 100m and 200m, clocked 19.80 seconds, the fastest time in the world this year, to bolster his argument as the top U.S. male flat sprinter.

Norman, passed in the final meters, was second in 19.83 in his first 200m in nearly three years.

USATF GOLDEN GAMES: Full Results

Kerley and Norman were the top U.S. 400m sprinters until last year, when Kerley moved down in distance.

Kerley grabbed the third and final spot on the U.S. Olympic team in the 100m, then ran a personal best in the Olympic final (9.84) to take silver behind surprise Italian Marcell Jacobs.

Kerley was fourth in the Olympic Trials 200m, missing that team by one spot. After Saturday’s performance, he may be favored to finish in the top three in both sprints at the USATF Outdoor Championships in June to vie for medals at the world championships in July. Both meets are in Eugene, Oregon.

The last U.S. man to contest both the 100m and 200m at a global championship was the recently retired Justin Gatlin at the 2016 Rio Olympics. Gatlin was also the last U.S. man to earn a medal in both events, doing so at the 2015 Worlds.

Norman has more to prove than Kerley. He ran the world’s fastest 400m of the last Olympic cycle. It came not at a championship meet, but at Mt. SAC in April 2019. He then didn’t earn an individual medal at the 2019 World Championships (ran injured) or the Tokyo Olympics.

The 200m and 400m overlap at the world championships, so Norman is expected to focus solely on the 400m this summer. But he still wasn’t happy with Saturday’s race, even though he did beat training partner and Olympic 400m hurdles silver medalist Rai Benjamin for second place.

“I was like, I just don’t have it,” in the final meters against Kerley, Norman said on CNBC. “It’s a really big disappointing feeling.”

Christian Coleman, the 2019 World 100m champion who missed the Tokyo Games due to a missed-drug-tests ban, was initially entered in the 200m but withdrew before the race.

In other events, Allyson Felix competed for the first time in her farewell season, running the second leg of a victorious 4x400m with Shamier LittleDalilah Muhammad and Athing Mu.

Olympic bronze medalist Gabby Thomas took the women’s 200m in 22.02, the world’s second-fastest time this year. She beat a field that included 2019 World silver medalist Brittany Brown and two-time Olympian Jenna Prandini.

Thomas’ biggest competition come the summer should be Jamaican Elaine Thompson-Herah, who won the 100m and 200m at the last two Olympics. Thompson-Herah had the fastest time in the 100m heats on Saturday (10.89), then scratched the final won by American Twanisha Terry in a wind-aided 10.77.

Micah Williams took the men’s 100m in a wind-aided 9.83.

Tonea Marshall upset Olympic silver medalist Keni Harrison in the 100m hurdles, 12.46 to 12.56. Only Olympic gold medalist Jasmine Camacho-Quinn of Puerto Rico has run faster this year.

Michael Cherry ran the world’s fastest 400m of 2022, taking that event in 44.28 seconds.

Earlier at Mt. SAC on Thursday, 2016 Olympic silver medalist Evan Jager finished a steeplechase for the first time since 2018, taking second in 8:34.89. Last year, it took 8:22.05 to make the Olympic team.

The track and field season continues Monday with the Boston Marathon (broadcast schedule here). The top-level Diamond League season starts next month.

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