Johnny Dutch

Justin Gatlin

Justin Gatlin dominates 100m in Rome; Sally Pearson injured

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Justin Gatlin continued his blazing start to the season, winning a 100m in Rome in 9.75 seconds on Thursday.

Gatlin, the 2004 Olympic champion five years removed from a four-year doping ban, beat the second-place finisher, France’s Jimmy Vicaut, by .23.

Usain Bolt, who hasn’t run faster than 9.98 since 2013 and missed much of last season due to injury, was not in the Rome field.

Gatlin, who ran a personal best 9.74 at age 33 in Doha on May 15, is the only man to break 9.80 since Bolt won the 2013 World title in 9.77. Gatlin has done so three times in that span.

“I feel confident running times around 9.70s,” Gatlin said, according to the IAAF. “I do not think of beating Usain Bolt now because the [World] Championships is not tomorrow. … 9.6 should be possible in the summer.”

In other events Thursday, an anticipated 100m hurdles race fell apart. Australian Olympic champion Sally Pearson crashed to the track coming off the fifth hurdle and suffered a dislocated wrist plus two fractures, according to Australia’s track and field federation.

U.S. World champion Brianna Rollins hit the seventh and eighth hurdles, falling after the latter.

American Jasmin Stowers, the fastest in the world this year, lost control and ran into the ninth hurdle.

American Sharika Nelvis emerged to win in a personal-best 12.52, defeating 2008 U.S. Olympic champion Dawn Harper-Nelson by .07.

“I ran my own race and did not see any of those three falls,” Nelvis said, according to the IAAF.

In the 200m, U.S. champion Jeneba Tarmoh won in 22.77, against a field that did not include Olympic champion Allyson Felix or Jamaican World champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce. Fraser-Pryce pulled out after warm-ups due to a reported hamstring injury. Felix owns the fastest time in the world this year — 21.98 from May 15.

U.S. champion Francena McCorory prevailed in the 400m in 50.36. The race did not include Olympic champion Sanya Richards-Ross or Felix, who are the two fastest women this year.

American Jenny Simpson, the 2014 Diamond League champion, edged the Netherlands’ Sifan Hassan by .37 in the 1500m with a final straightaway pass in a battle between two favorites going into the World Championships in Beijing in August.

U.S. champion Johnny Dutch took the 400m hurdles in 48.13, which was .04 off the fastest time in the world this year by countryman Bershawn Jackson on May 15. Jackson was not in Rome. The 10 fastest times in the world this year are shared among four Americans, including Olympic and World silver medalist Michael Tinsley.

The Diamond League moves to Birmingham, Great Britain, for a meet Sunday.

Flashback: Usain Bolt at the Athens 2004 Olympics (video)

Justin Gatlin, Allyson Felix sizzle at Prefontaine Classic

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U.S. Olympic champions Justin Gatlin and Allyson Felix put down statement times in winning sprints at the Prefontaine Classic in Eugene, Ore., on Saturday, perhaps the top international meet before the World Championships in August.

Gatlin, the 2004 Olympic 100m champ five years removed from a four-year doping ban, clocked 19.68 seconds to win the 200m (video here). It matched his personal best set in 2014 and the fastest time in the world since the 2013 World Championships.

Full Prefontaine Classic meet results are available here.

“When I saw the time, I know I’m on course to go onto the World Championships [in Beijing in August],” Gatlin, 33, told Lewis Johnson on NBC. “It’s going to be a real rumble in the jungle,” he added when asked about 2015, 2016 and possible matchups with Usain Bolt.

Bolt, the world-record holder at 19.19 who was not in the Prefontaine Classic field, hasn’t run 19.68 or better since he won the 2013 World Championship in 19.66. At the 2013 Worlds, Gatlin took silver behind Bolt in the 100m but did not race the 200m.

“[Bolt] is the kind of guy who’s going to rise to the occasion when it’s time to go,” Gatlin said of Bolt on USATF.TV after the meet. “I’m looking for a time, every time he runs this year, the time’s going to steadily drop and drop and drop. By the time, maybe the [Worlds] semis like he did in 2012 [at the Olympics], he just woke up [9.87] jogging and he came out and ran [9.63] in the finals. That’s what I’m looking to see out of Usain Bolt coming in this year at the World Championships.”

Gatlin is questioned for running his fastest times at an advanced age of 33, after testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs in 2006.

“I think it’s more a gift than a curse,” Gatlin said of not competing from 2006 to 2010 to NBC Olympics analyst Ato Boldon on USATF.TV. “I think it gave my legs a little shelf life. I never had any major injuries, maybe a hamstring strain here or a quad strain there. I just really wanted to show everybody that I could come back. But it wasn’t [just] me. I want to say that guys like yourself, Ato Boldon, Frankie Fredericks, Carl LewisLeroy Burrell, Linford Christie, those guys ran well into their 30s [editor’s note: Boldon and Burrell did not break 10 seconds in the 100m in their 30s]. I’m just taking that page out of their book. You know what, your career’s not over when you hit 30. I think a lot of guys this day and age think that.”

Earlier, Felix, the Olympic 200m champion, won the 400m over Olympic 400m champion Sanya Richards-Ross (video here). Felix clocked 50.05, her fastest 400m time since she took silver at the 2011 World Championships in 49.59, which marked the last time she ran the 400m at a global championship.

“I just want to explore it more,” Felix told Lewis Johnson on NBCSN of the 400m.

Felix has said she will run either the 200m or the 400m at the World Championships in Beijing in August, but not both. Notably, the 200m semifinals and 400m final at Worlds are 70 minutes apart.

Felix, who owns six Olympic medals and 10 Worlds medals, has an automatic berth on the World Championships team in the 200m but must finish in the top three in the 400m at the U.S. Championships in June to qualify in both races.

Tyson Gay won the 100m in 9.88 seconds, his fastest time since 2011 if excluding the times wiped out from his doping ban (race video here). Gatlin is the only other American to break 9.90 since the London 2012 Olympics.

Olympic and World champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce took the women’s 100m in 10.81, her fastest time since Sept. 6, 2013. Fraser-Pryce had not broken 11 seconds since 2013 before Saturday. Ivory Coast’s Murielle Ahoure was second in an identical time, followed by American Tori Bowie, the fastest woman of 2014, in 10.82 (race video here).

Earlier, 2013 U.S. champion English Gardner outleaned Jamaican Elaine Thompson in a 100m B final. Both clocked a personal-best 10.84. Gardner, like Fraser-Pryce, had not broken 11 seconds since 2013.

“I’ve been struggling the past couple of two years, I switched coaches, I didn’t know if I was going to be able to bounce back,” Gardner tearfully told Lewis Johnson on NBCSN. “I’m overwhelmed because I started losing a little bit of faith in myself.”

Olympic champion Kirani James of Grenada defeated U.S. rival and World champion LaShawn Merritt in the 400m, 43.95 to 44.51. James clocked the fastest time in the world this year.

American Jenny Simpson took the 1500m in 4:00.98. Simpson, the 2014 Diamond League champion, won gold at the 2011 World Championships and silver at the 2013 World Championships.

“This is where legends win, and where they’re born,” Simpson told Lewis Johnson on NBC on the 40-year anniversary of 1972 Olympic 5000m runner Steve Prefontaine‘s death. “I’m trying to write my name in the history books.”

Djibouti’s Ayanleh Souleiman captured the Bowerman Mile finale in 3:51.10, edging American Matthew Centrowitz by one tenth.

French Olympic champion Renaud Lavillenie won the pole vault but missed three attempts at matching his world record of 6.16m.

In the 110m hurdles, France’s Pascal Martinot-Lagarde clocked 13.06, the fastest time in the world this year, beating Americans Olympic champion Aries Merritt (13.12) and World champion David Oliver (13.14).

Qatar’s Mutaz Barshim cleared 2.41m to win the high jump but took no attempts closer to the 22-year-old world record of 2.45m due to leg cramps.

U.S. champion Johnny Dutch edged 2005 World champion Bershawn Jackson in the 400m hurdles, 48.20 to 48.22. Olympic and World silver medalist Michael Tinsley was third in 48.79, completing a U.S. sweep. Jackson remains the fastest in the world this year at 48.09.

Two-time Olympic champion Ezekiel Kemboi won the 3000m steeplechase, crossing the finish line in lane 3 and dancing in celebration, not unusual for the Kenyan. Kemboi won in 8:01.71, the fastest time ever in the U.S.

The Diamond League continues with a meet in Rome on Thursday. The U.S. Championships, also in Eugene, are June 26-28. The World Championships are Aug. 22-28 in Beijing.

Ashton Eaton withdraws before first decathlon since 2013

*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.

Jeneba Tarmoh, Oregon WR win USA Track and Field Outdoor Championships

Jeneba Tarmoh
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Jeneba Tarmoh left no doubt at the U.S. Championships on Sunday, two years after her famous tie with Allyson Felix at the U.S. Olympic Trials.

University of Oregon wide receiver Devon Allen and World bronze medalist Curtis Mitchell also won track titles in Sacramento, Calif., where on-track temperatures reportedly topped 120 degrees.

Tarmoh won the 200m in 22.06 seconds. Last year’s U.S. champion, Kimberlyn Duncan, was second in 22.1 with a 3.8 m/s tailwind.

“I really just tried to stay focused on my finish,” Tarmoh told Lewis Johnson on NBC. “My coach told me to stay relaxed. That’s exactly what I did.”

In 2012, Tarmoh and Felix tied for third in the 100m at the Olympic Trials, where three women make the Olympic Team in the event. There were no tiebreaker procedures in place, officials determined a runoff to decide the spot, and Tarmoh ceded it to Felix rather than run.

Tarmoh still made the Olympic Team in the 4x100m relay that won gold (Tarmoh ran in the first round to earn her medal but not the final). She went on to finish fifth in the 200m at the 2013 World Championships. Felix tore her hamstring and fell to the track in the same race.

Now, Tarmoh, at 24, is a U.S. champion for the first time. She owed her ability to focus at such a big meet to her experience.

“It’s very hard, but I think it’s practice, being a professional for probably three years now,” Tarmoh said. “It doesn’t happen in one year. It definitely takes time.”

The track and field season continues with the resumption of the Diamond League in Lausanne, Switzerland, on Thursday. There, Justin Gatlin and Tyson Gay will face off in the 100m in Gay’s return from a doping suspension.

In other events Sunday, University of Oregon wide receiver Devon Allen followed his NCAA Championship with the U.S. title in the 110m hurdles. Allen’s dip at the line earned him a victory over 2013 U.S. champion Ryan Wilson in a photo finish — 13.155 to 13.160 (video here).

Allen’s time, rounded up to 13.16, was the same mark he set to win the NCAA title in Eugene, Ore., two weeks ago.

Allen, a redshirt freshman at Oregon last year, caught two touchdowns in the school’s May spring game and was named MVP. Allen said football was his priority after he won the NCAA title.

In the men’s 200m, the heat slowed World bronze medalist Curtis Mitchell, but not until after he won the race.

Mitchell edged two-time Olympian Wallace Spearmon and grabbed his right hamstring shortly after crossing the finish line in 20.13, .09 faster than Spearmon.

“I’m fine, just hot conditions out here,” Mitchell said. “I’ll be OK.”

The 2011 World champion Jenny Simpson comfortably won the 1500m in 4:04.96. Mary Cain, a professional who graduated high school one week ago, was second in 4:06.34.

Bershawn Jackson, a 2008 Olympic bronze medalist, fell after the first hurdle in the 400m hurdles and was helped off the track. Johnny Dutch won his first U.S. title (in his seventh try) about 350m later in 48.93.

Duane Solomon, an Olympic and World finalist, quickly took the lead in the 800m and was not challenged down the stretch. He won by 1.67 in 1:44.3.

The 2012 World Junior champion Ajee’ Wilson captured the 800m in 1:58.7. World bronze medalist Brenda Martinez was fifth.

The 2013 NCAA champion Kori Carter won the 400m hurdles in 53.84, the second fastest time in the world this year. Only Jamaican Kaliese Spencer has run faster.

Inika McPherson outlasted three-time Olympian Chaunte Lowe and Olympic and World silver medalist Brigetta Barrett to win the high jump with a personal best 2m clearance.

Olympian Evan Jager won the 3000m steeplechase in 8:18.83.

Two-time reigning NCAA champion Sam Kendricks took the pole vault by clearing 5.75m.

Olympian Gia Lewis-Smallwood won her second straight U.S. discus title with a 65.96m throw. London teammate Sean Furey threw 81.1m to prevail in the javelin.

Jeff Henderson leaped 8.52m to win the long jump.

Oscar Pistorius trial set to resume Monday