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  • TRACK AND FIELD

    Beaten by Gatlin, Bolt shows signs of slowing

  • ROME — After five dominating years, Usain Bolt is showing signs of slowing down.
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  • ROME — After five dominating years, Usain Bolt is showing signs of slowing down.
    The Jamaican lost by a hundredth of a second to American Justin Gatlin in the 100 meters Thursday night at the Golden Gala meet. Gatlin finished in 9.94 seconds.
    It was Bolt's first significant loss since his false-start disqualification at the 2011 world championships in South Korea. But he also struggled in his first 100 this year, winning a photo finish in 10.09 in the Cayman Islands a month ago while dealing with a hamstring injury.
    This is normally the time Bolt starts to leave his rivals behind as he revs up for the year's biggest event. This season, it's the world championships in Moscow in August.
    However, the always cool Jamaican isn't worried.
    "For me it is just going through the season," said Bolt, the world-record holder and six-time Olympic champion. "Put things together for the world championships. The season is still very early."
    He did not blame the hamstring this time.
    "During the race I didn't feel it all," he said. "Afterwards it was sore but that's expected. But during the race it was fine."
    Gatlin, who has won all five of his 100-meter races this year and had been doing some pre-race trash talking, was restrained in his celebration, just clapping his hands rapidly.
    "This year I just want to be able to put together a better race, give him some competition when he's at his top form, to make it a more epic race," Gatlin said. "He's a legend. He's done great things and I just want to go out there and just fight to the end."
    Bolt briefly covered his face with his hands after the race, and then saluted the crowd. After things settled down, Bolt went over and shook Gatlin's hand and congratulated him.
    "I came into this race trying to figure out where I was," Bolt added. "Now I just need to go back and watch the tape and see what went wrong and what I need to work on and compete better next time. ... The fact that I lost this race is a good thing."
    Bolt struggled in the first 50 meters despite his strong start. He started to gain ground on Gatlin near the finish but would have needed a bit more track to overtake him.
    "That was ridiculous — a perfect start and then I just cropped off," Bolt said. "I think it was this perfect start that threw my game off. I have to do more strength work, I guess. I think it needs just some time to get it all back together. At the end it was just not me."
    In perfect conditions before a Stadio Olimpico crowd of 52,305, Bolt was second in 9.95 and Jimmy Vicaut of France third in 10.02.
    "At least I got under 10 seconds," Bolt said. "My legs did not feel the energy. At 50 meters I had some problems, but the rest of the race was not bad.
    "My fifth step I kind of stumbled a bit. The last 50 where I thought I would be much better I wasn't there, so I guess I just need to go home and figure out what I need to do and get it right, because normally my last 50 of the race is my best part. I need to put it together. I have enough time. I'm not worried."
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