American Justin Gatlin nipped Jamaica’s Asafa Powell at the line to win the 100 meters in a time of 9.87 seconds at the season-opening Diamond League meet on Friday.
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Powell got off to the faster start but Gatlin pulled even and managed to get his head in front as they crossed the line.
”This is fastest I ever opened up my career,” said Gatlin, who dedicated the win to son Jace on his second birthday.
American Allyson Felix won the 100 with a meet record of 10.92, edging her Jamaican rival and reigning world 200 champion Veronica Campbell-Brown by 0.02 seconds
Gatlin tied Powell’s world record in Doha six years ago, but the result was erased when he was caught doping a few weeks later. Gatlin tested positive for excessive levels of testosterone, which led to a four-year ban.
Gatlin and Powell are gearing up for the London Games. Olympic champion Usain Bolt skipped the meet, along with Tyson Gay of the United States, who is recovering from injury.
”I just showed I have a lot of grit and a lot of competition in these old legs,” Gatlin said. ”I want to come back and show the world I can run to the line with the best of them.”
Powell, who has lost to Gatlin seven times in 10 meetings, said he wouldn’t let it happen the next time.
”I cannot complain about my time – 9.88 is a good time,” he said. ”I am still feeling the jet lag, so I cannot say I was 100 percent ready. I will surely go for gold at the Olympics.”
Felix, who may run the 200 and 400 meters at the London Games, showed she is starting the season in shape. Olympic champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce was third.
”I know my speed was coming on and I was just focused on putting it together technically, so it was pretty cool to come in here and win,” said Felix, who has won more races than any athlete in Doha.
Campbell-Brown, who had beaten Felix in all five of their previous 100 races, said she ”could improve” and would ”keep working until the Olympics.”