Sharika Nelvis

Justin Gatlin stays hot; Genzebe Dibaba breaks world record in Monaco

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Justin Gatlin continued his unbeaten streak, while Ethiopian Genzebe Dibaba broke a 22-year-old world record in the women’s 1500m at a Diamond League meet in Monaco on Friday night.

Gatlin, the favorite to beat Usain Bolt for 100m and 200m World titles in August, won the 100m in 9.78 seconds, beating Tyson Gay by .19. Gatlin is the only man to run 9.80 or better since the start of 2014, and he’s done so six times. The 33-year-old, five years removed from a four-year doping ban, hasn’t lost an individual race since Sept. 6, 2013.

Dibaba, better known as a 5000m runner until now, clocked 3:50.07 in the 1500m to break the 3:50.46 world record set by China’s Qu Yunxia in 1993. In the same race Friday, Shannon Rowbury ran 3:56.29 to break the American record set by Mary Slaney in 1983 (3:57.12).

Dibaba’s world record is the first in an Olympic track event since Aries Merritt in the 110m hurdles on Sept. 7, 2012. It’s the first women’s Olympic track event world record since Russian Gulnara Samitova-Galkina in the 3000m steeplechase on Aug. 17, 2008. Dibaba’s older sister, Tirunesh Dibaba, holds the 5000m world record set June 6, 2008.

“I think Tirunesh will be happy, all Ethiopia will be happy,” Dibaba said, according to the Diamond League. “I knew from the beginning that I could break the record and am still able to improve, maybe under 3:50. But one thing is clear I will double at World Championships [1500m and 5000m]. And let’s try for 5000m world record after Beijing.”

In Monaco, athletes were preparing for the World Championships in Beijing (Aug. 22-30, broadcast info here). Here are full results from Monaco.

Asbel Kiprop, the two-time reigning World champion, ran the fifth fastest 1500m of all time in 3:26.69. The Kenyan was .69 off Hicham El Guerrouj‘s world record from 1998 and moved to third fastest all time in the event behind Kiprop and Bernard Lagat.

Kiprop relegated Olympic and World 5000m and 10,000m champion Mo Farah to fourth place, marking the Brit’s lowest finish in an outdoor track final since 2010, according to Tilastopaja. Afterward, Farah said he will run the 10,000m at Worlds but hadn’t decided whether to contest the 5000m.

American Matthew Centrowitz, who won medals behind Kiprop at the last two Worlds, clocked a personal-best 3:30.40 for 10th place, moving to third on the U.S. all-time list and ahead of Alan Webb. Olympic silver medalist Leo Manzano was 13th in 3:36.16.

Two-time U.S. champion Joe Kovacs threw the farthest shot put in 12 years, 22.56m to win that contest and solidify favorite status going into his first World Championships.

Francena McCorory, who failed to qualify for the World Championships in the individual 400m, improved on her fastest time in the world this year by winning the 400m in 49.83. McCorory, who has the three fastest times in the world in 2015, could still run the 400m at Worlds, if Allyson Felix gives up her spot to focus on the 200m.

American Sharika Nelvis took the 100m hurdles in 12.46 in a Worlds preview. Nelvis, the world’s fastest woman this year in 12.34, beat a field that included the three other Americans going to Worlds plus the top non-American going to Worlds, Michigan-born Brit Tiffany Porter.

American Candyce McGrone won the women’s 200m in a personal-best 22.08, becoming the second fastest woman in the world this year behind Felix. The Bahamas’ Shaunae Miller, one of Felix’s biggest threats for Worlds in the 200m and 400m, slowed to a jog in the final 50 meters and was last in 28.28.

Olympic champion Renaud Lavillenie won the pole vault with a 5.92m clearance.

Olympic champion Christian Taylor defeated Cuban rival Pedro Pablo Pichardo in the triple jump, 17.75m to 17.73m. Taylor and Pichardo are the only men to triple jump farther than 17.53m this year, which they’ve done a combined 13 times.

Bershawn Jackson, the 2005 World champion and 2008 Olympic bronze medalist, won the 400m hurdles in 48.23. Jackson, 32, has won at eight of his nine meets this season and holds the world’s fastest time this year of 48.09.

In the men’s 800m, Amel Tuka of Bosnia and Herzegovina ran the world’s fastest time of 2015, a 1:42.52 to beat a field that did not include Kenyan Olympic champion and world-record holder David Rudisha.

The Diamond League season continues in London next Friday and Saturday, with Bolt scheduled to race for the first time since June 13.

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Allyson Felix wins 400m, fastest women upset at U.S. Championships

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Allyson Felix won the national 400m title, while World champion LaShawn Merritt was upset at the U.S. Track and Field Championships in Eugene, Ore., on Saturday.

Felix, the Olympic 200m champion and 2011 World 400m silver medalist, surged in the last 100 meters to run down Natasha Hastings in the women’s 400m final, prevailing in 50.19 seconds (race video here).

“I just wanted to let them not get too far away from me, and I knew I could be strong coming home,” Felix told Lewis Johnson on NBC. “I’m a sprinter. I finally got to sprint a little bit. I made it hard on myself.”

Athletes are competing at Hayward Field looking to finish in the top three of their events to make the team for the World Championships in Beijing from Aug. 22-30.

U.S. qualifiers for World Track and Field Championships | Full U.S. Championships results

Felix has said she will run either the 200m or the 400m at Worlds but not both, since the 200m semifinals and 400m final at Worlds are 70 minutes apart.

“I feel like I still haven’t reached my potential there [in the 400m],” Felix said, according to Reuters. “I feel like I could challenge myself there.

“But I still love the 200.”

Felix’s decision will be key for the fastest 400m woman in the world the last two years — Francena McCorory. McCorory finished fourth in the U.S. final and will only be able to race the individual 400m at Worlds if Felix opts out of it. Olympic champion Sanya Richards-Ross failed to qualify for the U.S. 400m final.

Merritt, the 2008 Olympic champion, was edged for the men’s 400m title by David Verburg, 44.63 to 44.66 (race video here). Vernon Norwood and 2012 Olympic Closing Ceremony flag bearer Bryshon Nellum also made the Worlds team, as Merritt had a bye into Worlds as defending champion.

In the 100m hurdles, 2008 Olympic champion Dawn Harper-Nelson prevailed in 12.55, ahead of Kendra Harrison and Sharika Nelvis (race video here). That trio is joined on the U.S. team for Worlds by defending World champion Brianna Rollins.

Summer and Winter Olympian Lolo Jones and Jasmin Stowers, who this year became the second U.S. woman ever to run 12.40 or better three times in a career, failed to make the Worlds team.

Olympic and World champion Brittney Reese took second in the long jump to 2005 World champion Tianna Bartoletta. They’re joined on the Worlds team by Olympic bronze medalist Janay DeLoach and Jasmine Todd, who also qualified in the 100m Friday.

Two-time World medalist Matthew Centrowitz won the 1500m in 3:37.25 (race video here), ahead of Robby Andrews and Olympic silver medalist Leo Manzano. Manzano edged Ben Blankenship by .02 for third, but Andrews and Manzano must run the qualifying standard 3:36.20 by Aug. 9 to make the Worlds team, or else Blankenship, who already has the standard, will go to Beijing.

“Winning wasn’t good enough,” Centrowitz told media in Eugene. “I wanted to really dominate. … Going into that home stretch, I wanted the race to be won already. … I think I did that.”

Bershawn Jackson, the 2005 World champion and 2008 Olympic bronze medalist, won the 400m hurdles in 48.29 (race video here). He’s joined on the U.S. team for Worlds by Olympic and World silver medalist Michael Tinsley, 2014 U.S. champion Johnny Dutch and 2007 and 2009 World champion Kerron Clement.

U.S. men make up the five fastest 400m hurdlers in the world this year, led by Jackson.

American record holder Emma Coburn won her fourth 3000m steeplechase national title in 9:15.59, the second fastest time in the world this year (race video here). A U.S. woman has never won an Olympic or Worlds steeplechase medal.

“There’s only three, four, five really competitive women [in the world], so I hope to be one of them,” Coburn told Lewis Johnson on NBC.

Sam Kendricks won the pole vault, with 2007 World champion Brad Walker second and also making the World Championships team. Kendricks is ranked tied for fifth in the world this year.

The U.S. Championships conclude Sunday, highlighted by the men’s and women’s 200m finals featuring Justin Gatlin (NBC and NBC Sports Live Extra from 4-6 p.m. ET)

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Justin Gatlin dominates 100m in Rome; Sally Pearson injured

Justin Gatlin
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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)