Jun 6, 2013, 3:53 PM EST
Athens 100m Olympic champ Justin Gatlin out-leaned world record holder Usain Bolt at the tape Thursday at the Diamond League meet in Rome to beat the Beijing and London gold medalist for the first time in their storied careers.
“Bolt is a great competitor and a great champion,” Gatlin told reporters. “To come out here and have a victory, it just stamps that I’m having a good season… You can never count out Usain.”
Gatlin was clocked at 9.94 seconds – a step slower than the 9.91 he posted in Beijing last month – while Bolt came in right behind him in 9.95, and said, smiling, that he was just happy to finish under 10-seconds for the first time this season. Jimmy Vicaut of France finished third in 10.02.
Bolt, who ran 9.76 in Rome last season, actually got off to a rare good start Thursday – the fastest in the field – which usually spells doom for his competitors. But the 31-year-old Gatlin was able to quickly chase him down, take a lead by the 50-meter mark, and somehow hold off the reigning Olympic champ.
“I got the perfect start. What I wanted,” Bolt told reporters. “About five steps in, I stumbled a little bit.”
Bolt then joked that he had a little bit more strength work to do after he was bothered by a mild hamstring strain earlier this season that forced him out of the Kingston Invitational. American Tyson Gay replaced him there, and ran a 2013 world’s best 9.86. Bolt’s best before Thursday was just 10.09, when he barely beat young training partner Kemar Bailey-Cole at the Cayman Invitational.
“For me, it’s just going through the season and putting things together for the World Championships,” Bolt added. “The season is still very early. I am not surprised.”
Meanwhile, Gatlin is undefeated in five races this season, and has run under 10-seconds four times if you count the wind-aided 9.88 he ran at the Prefontaine Classic in Eugene last weekend.
“I have a different feel going into the season than I did last year…” Gatlin told the BBC earlier this week. “I want to go into this season with that same attitude but more calm, more collected. I want to be able to know who my opponents are and what they do and what they bring to the table.”
Nov 28, 2014, 2:57 PM EST
How the venues for basketball, swimming and other sports are coming along.
Nov 28, 2014, 11:33 AM EST
The youngest Olympic slalom champion tries to emulate one skier above all the rest — an Olympic men’s champion.
Nov 28, 2014, 11:17 AM EST
Kostner, the Olympic and World figure skating bronze medalist, is taking this season off.
Nov 28, 2014, 11:01 AM EST
Coe sees problems with the World Championships and Diamond League.
Nov 28, 2014, 10:41 AM EST
Olympic champion’s status for World Championships in January is unclear.
Nov 28, 2014, 10:30 AM EST
Grand Prix final picture includes plenty of Americans.
Nov 28, 2014, 9:42 AM EST
Legal battle may not be finished, however.
Nov 28, 2014, 9:24 AM EST
Japanese site could break a 46-year Winter Olympic streak.
Nov 28, 2014, 8:47 AM EST
Tikhonov died earlier this week at 84 after a long illness.
Nov 28, 2014, 8:15 AM EST
Olympic champion hopes to return for Beaver Creek next weekend.
Nov 26, 2014, 1:06 PM EST
Full schedule of coverage across World Cups, Grand Prix events and World Championships.
Nov 26, 2014, 7:42 AM EST
Sister-brother team had bronze medals, but the official results didn’t reflect that until Tuesday.
Nov 25, 2014, 1:19 PM EST
Neither has competed since the London Olympics.
Nov 25, 2014, 10:46 AM EST
Scheduling conflicts, another new event?
Nov 25, 2014, 9:27 AM EST
Christ the Redeemer, Olympic motto honored on the coins.
Nov 24, 2014, 10:23 PM EST
Phelps is working toward 2015 goals, a North Baltimore official said.
Nov 24, 2014, 3:52 PM EST
An MRI and bone scan showed no structural damage.
Nov 24, 2014, 11:25 AM EST
Canada won its first men’s hockey Olympic gold in 50 years under Quinn.
Nov 24, 2014, 10:11 AM EST
Olympic champion Shields was named the tournament’s best overall boxer.
Nov 24, 2014, 9:17 AM EST
Tikhonov led the Soviets in the Miracle on Ice game.
- Mikaela Shiffrin: ‘I’m trying to show people what’s not impossible’ 0
- Katie Ledecky faces decisions in 2015, 2016 0
- Michael Phelps back in the pool; Phelps, Ledecky win Golden Goggles 2
- Viktor Tikhonov, Soviet Union Olympic hockey coach, dies at 84 1
- Sun Yang failed drug test, served three-month ban 0
- Rio 2016 Olympic, Paralympic mascots unveiled (video) 0
- Maksim Kovtun rallies to win Trophee Bompard (video); Grand Prix Final picture 0
- Emotional Bode Miller medals in race that mattered most (61)
- Russian women kissing after relay victory at World Championships causes stir (60)
- IOC drops wrestling from 2020 Olympics (47)
- South Korea filing official complaint over Yuna Kim’s Olympic silver (39)
- Zola Budd, 47, dominates college runners in 5K (33)