Skip to content

Usain Bolt vs. Justin Gatlin; Diamond League Zurich preview

Aug 28, 2013, 3:22 PM EDT

Usain Bolt Getty Images

The World Championships are behind us, but there are still plenty of reasons to keep an eye on track and field. Foremost, the first of two Diamond League finals, Thursday in Zurich, Switzerland.

Usain Bolt and Justin Gatlin will face off over 100 meters at 3:28 p.m. Eastern time on Universal Sports (full start lists here). Bolt beat Gatlin in the 100 at worlds earlier this month in his closest margin of victory in an Olympic or worlds final ever (.08 of a second). Gatlin handed Bolt a defeat in Rome in June by .01.

Bolt hasn’t raced a 100 since worlds, while Gatlin won a race into a slight headwind in rainy Linz, Austria, in 10.08 seconds Monday.

At a pre-meet press conference, Bolt reiterated what he’s been saying since 2012, that his plan is to enter three events at the Rio 2016 Olympics — the 100, 200 and 4×100 relay.

“For me, the key thing is just to go to defend my titles, and that’s my focus,” Bolt said, according to The Associated Press. “It would be the first time anybody has ever won three times in a row.”

Bolt and Gatlin are clear favorites in Zurich, as they were at worlds in Moscow. The Olympic silver medalist, Yohan Blake of Jamaica, is done for the season with a hamstring injury. The man with the fastest time this year, Tyson Gay, is out after failing multiple drug tests.

Don’t be surprised if Bolt goes faster than his season’s best 9.77 from the World Championships. That’s because he and other sprint stars have a history of posting fast times after worlds. In 2011, Bolt posted his season’s best 9.76 on Sept. 16. On that same day, Yohan Blake ran the second fastest 200 meters ever — 19.26. Bolt ran a meet record 19.66 in a 200 in Zurich last year.

Bolt spent Wednesday in Zurich, meeting FIFA president Sepp Blatter, who gave Bolt a ticket to the World Cup final in Rio de Janeiro, according to Reuters.

Great meeting the president of FIFA today..@seppblatter #worldcup #football

A photo posted by Usain St.Leo Bolt (@usainbolt) on

Bolt, a soccer lover who wishes to play for Manchester United, also touched the World Cup trophy for the first time. Somebody in Zurich suggested to Bolt he go into sports administration after he retired.

“I have thought about it, I have to admit I’m slightly lazy, but we’ll see where it goes,” Bolt said, according to Reuters.

The rest of the field in Zurich is led by Jamaicans Nesta CarterKemar Bailey-Cole and Nickel Ashmeade and Americans Walter Dix and Mike Rodgers.

Other events to watch Thursday:

Men’s High Jump (2 p.m. ET): Ukrainian world champion Bohdan Bondarenko could take another shot at Javier Sotomayor‘s 20-year-old world record of 2.45 meters. Bondarenko tried and failed to better it at the London Anniversary Games in July and the World Championships earlier this month, where he won with a 2.41-meter jump.

Women’s 5,000 (2:13): Finally, we get to see the queens of distance running meet. Ethiopian world and Olympic champions Meseret Defar (5,000) and Tirunesh Dibaba (10,000) will go in the same race for the first time in competition in seven years, according to Agence France-Presse.

Women’s 200 (2:44): Triple world champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce is in the field. Can anyone beat her? American Olympic champion Allyson Felix is out with her torn hamstring. World silver medalist Murielle Ahoure of the Ivory Coast will give it a shot.

Men’s 110 Hurdles (3:02): All four Americans from the worlds final are in the field, including world champion David Oliver and Olympic champion and world-record holder Aries Merritt. Merritt will be looking to make up for a disappointing sixth-place finish at worlds. Also Cuban Dayron Robles, the 2008 Olympic champion, is in the field after missing worlds.

Women’s 800 (3:10): Like Robles, Caster Semenya returns after missing the World Championships, A knee injury limited the 2009 world champion early in the season, and she failed to post a qualifying time for worlds.

Men’s 400 (3:20): LaShawn Merritt and Kirani James face off yet again. They’ve traded wins agains each other this year. Merritt took the world title in a personal-best 43.74, while James, the Olympic champion, finished a disappointing seventh.

Where is Jeff Demps?

Latest Posts
  1. Carlin Isles talks about emotional start to rugby career (video)

    Sep 4, 2015, 5:25 PM EDT

    Carlin Isles Getty Images

    The U.S. will play Australia live on NBCSN and Live Extra on Saturday.

  2. U.S. Olympic men’s soccer coach talks over-age players

    Sep 4, 2015, 3:53 PM EDT

    Andi Herzog Getty Images

    If the U.S. qualifies for Rio, it can name three men to the roster over age 23.

  3. Hayward Field may soon be upgraded (rendering photo)

    Sep 4, 2015, 2:49 PM EDT

    Hayward Field

    The upgrade would happen after the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials.

  4. Olympian attaches GoPro to javelin (video)

    Sep 4, 2015, 1:24 PM EDT

    GoPro Javelin

    First, a pole vaulter. Now, a javelin thrower.

  5. IOC pledges $2 million fund to help refugees

    Sep 4, 2015, 1:06 PM EDT

    Olympic flag

    The IOC called it an “emergency” fund.

  6. Aries Merritt home after successful kidney transplant (photos)

    Sep 4, 2015, 7:57 AM EDT

    Aries Merritt AP

    Merritt left the hospital less than a week after winning a bronze medal in Beijing.

  7. Andre De Grasse stays in school

    Sep 3, 2015, 4:46 PM EDT

    Andre De Grasse AP

    Canadian sprint sensation plans to compete collegiately in 2015-16.

  8. Mixed results for World champions in Zurich

    Sep 3, 2015, 3:49 PM EDT

    Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce AP

    Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, David Rudisha and Wayde van Niekerk were among the Beijing stars in Diamond League action.

  9. Check out the Rio Olympic mountain bike course (video)

    Sep 3, 2015, 12:08 PM EDT

    Rio Olympic mountain bike course

    The course designer attached a camera to his helmet and traversed the dirt, rocks, going over a bridge and through a tunnel.

  10. U.S. shooters begin earning Olympic berths

    Sep 3, 2015, 11:38 AM EDT

    Michael McPhail Getty Images

    The 2016 U.S. Olympic team is now at eight athletes across all sports.

  11. Jeremy Abbott to sit out figure skating season

    Sep 2, 2015, 4:02 PM EDT

    Jeremy Abbott AP

    The four-time U.S. champion isn’t retiring yet.

  12. Los Angeles’ ties to the Olympics

    Sep 2, 2015, 3:37 PM EDT

    AP AP

    Some of the names most associated with Los Angeles professional sports teams are Olympians.

  13. Five events to watch at Zurich Diamond League

    Sep 2, 2015, 11:27 AM EDT

    Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Tori Bowie Getty Images

    One event includes 2015 World champions from three different events.

  14. Mesut Özil open to Rio Olympics, but German coach dismisses

    Sep 2, 2015, 10:00 AM EDT

    Mesut Ozil Getty Images

    “I can hardly imagine that it is possible given the schedule.”

  15. Los Angeles 2024 Olympic bid is official

    Sep 1, 2015, 5:11 PM EDT

    Los Angeles 2024 logo

    Budapest, Hamburg, Paris and Rome previously announced bids.

  16. Kerri Walsh Jennings done for season after this week

    Sep 1, 2015, 1:51 PM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    Walsh Jennings and April Ross will have little to no wiggle room in Olympic qualifying next year.

  17. Can Venus Williams qualify for a fifth Olympics?

    Sep 1, 2015, 12:36 PM EDT

    Venus Williams AP

    She could become the second oldest Olympic singles player since the sport returned to the Games in 1988.

  18. Tokyo 2020 Olympic logo scrapped after plagiarism allegations

    Sep 1, 2015, 8:58 AM EDT

    Tokyo 2020 Olympic logo AP

    A competition will be held to pick a new logo.

  19. Top ten storylines from World Track and Field Championships

    Aug 31, 2015, 4:20 PM EDT

    Usain Bolt, Mo Farah AP

    Olympic champions came through and potential future Olympic stars broke out.