AUSTIN, Texas (AP) Trayvon Bromell had just dominated yet another 100 meters when Justin Gatlin strolled over to give the Baylor sophomore a pat on the back and a quick hug for a job well done.
It was a sign that a star of American sprinters sees big things to come from an emerging one.
Bromell’s wind-aided 9.90 seconds in the university men’s 100 crushed the field Saturday at the Texas Relays, sending yet another warning that this slightly built kid from St. Petersburg, Florida, intends to challenge the biggest names in the sport. And that could be as early at the World Championships in Beijing later this summer.
”That’s my goal,” Bromell said. ”The day of the race, whatever happens, happens.”
Bromell was a heavy favorite to defend his Texas Relays title after running 10.02 in Friday’s preliminaries, the fastest wind-legal time in the world this year. In the final, he grabbed the lead early and was never challenged by the field. Texas A&M’s Shavez Hart was a distant second at 10.10.
Only a wind-speed of 3.3 mph – over the allowable 2.0 – took the edge off a blistering finish. He clapped his hands at the finish line but later shrugged off the win as business as usual.
”I’m just trying to get the word out to the world and do my thing,” Bromell said.
Bromell’s 5-foot-9, 155-pound frame belies the body type of the muscular sprinters around him.
He set the Texas Relays record of 10.01 as a freshman last year. He followed that with a world junior record of 9.97 to win the NCAA championship. At the NCAA indoor championships earlier this month, he shrugged off a false start in the 60 to win the 200.
Bromell said Gatlin, who ran earlier in the day in a relay but didn’t race in the 100, has been a mentor to him, regularly providing words of encouragement even if they may end up being rivals.
”The sky’s the limit,” Gatlin said about Bromell. ”Some people question his height and his size but he’s able to use his body to his advantage. (Last year) was a year when short striders were the fastest sprinters. It hasn’t hurt anybody else.”
Asked if Bromell should turn pro, Gatlin said, ”If he thinks he has done everything he could do in college, come on out.”
Gatlin made his first appearance of 2015, running the anchor leg for the USA Red team that won men’s 400 relay invitational in 38.80. He wore a neon green and dark blue uniform with a Nike swoosh, which was notable because the apparel company signed him to a new sponsorship deal this past week.
Nike had dumped Gatlin in 2006 after he tested positive for using performance-enhancing drugs and was banned from the sport for four years.
”It feels good to be on the track and be part of a big family,” Gatlin said.
Gatlin is considered a top contender to challenger world record holder Usain Bolt of Jamaica for the gold medal at this summer’s world championships in Beijing and the 2016 Olympics in Brazil.
Gatlin, 33, ran four of the five fastest 100s in the world in 2014, including a personal-best 9.77 that was just 0.19 off Bolt’s world-record time.
”This year is all about medals. I want to win when it counts,” Gatlin said. ”I’d say I’m the guy to beat right now.”
Moraloke Akinosun of Texas won the women’s 100 in 10.94.
Shawn Barber of Akron broke his own Canadian record and set a meet mark in the men’s pole vault with a height of 19 feet, 4 1/4 inches – also the best in the world this year. He tried for an NCAA record, but missed three times at 19-8 1/4.