Gatlin captures 100 at Prefontaine Classic
EUGENE — Justin Gatlin considers himself an antsy person, finding it hard to wait early in the season for the fast times he hopes to have later in the year.
"Worry about those later when they count the most," he said.
The 34-year-old American sprinter had no time goal coming into 100 meters Saturday in the Prefontaine Classic and came away with the victory in 9.88 seconds at Hayward Field.
Jamaica's Asafa Powell was second in 9.94, and American Tyson Gay third in 9.98.
The 2004 Olympic champion in the 100, Gatlin won at the meet for the sixth time. Trying to stay focused on his race and his lane, he had a solid start and didn't give up the lead after taking it early on.
Gatlin will return to Hayward in early July for the U.S. Olympic Trials, with hopes of qualifying for the American team that will compete in Rio de Janeiro.
Gatlin admits that he's an older athlete who's "not about letting excitement dictate how I'm going to run and perform."
"I've got to run smarter," Gatlin said. "I've got to make sure that I put the right races out there, be precise each race. So, by the time I get to the Olympics, hopefully run in the finals, I'll be able to do what I can do and hopefully bring home a gold to America."
Gatlin joked after his race that he was upstaged by Kendra Harrison after she set the American record in the women's 100 hurdles in 12.24 — the second-fastest time ever.
"She stole my thunder, man, rightfully so," Gatlin said. "American record on a one-ff race, here at Prefontaine. It's an amazing feat, especially with the women's hurdles. It's a grab bag. You don't even know who's gonna win. Watching her do that today? That's amazing."
It was a meet filled with records on the women's side.
Bahrain's Ruth Jebet set Hayward, meet and Asian records in the 3,000 steeplechase in 8:59.97, edging Kenya's Hyvin Kiyeng (9:00.01), who broke the African record.
Jebet ran the second-fastest time ever, missing the world record by 1.16 seconds. Emma Coburn set an American record, taking third in 9:10.76.
Kenya's Faith Chepnget Kipyegon won the 1,500 in 3:56.41, the fastest time ever in the United States.
Asbel Kiprop of Kenya won the prestigious and meet-ending Bowerman men's mile in 3:51.54, leading 11 other competitors under the 4-minute barrier.
In the 400, Grenada's Kirani James beat American LaShawn Merritt in what has become an annual showdown at the Prefontaine.
The 23-year-old James had the better kick Saturday, winning in 44.22 to take the race for the third straight year. Merritt, 29, was second in 44.39. The two have now met five times in Eugene.
"It's going good so far," James, the 2012 Olympic champion, said about his training. "Like I said, as long as I stay injury free, stay the course and good things are going to happen in the future."
Omar McLeod showed he's nearing top form, dominating a strong 110 hurdles field in 13.06.
The 22-year-old Jamaican, who has a personal best of 12.97, won his first gold medal at the world indoor championships in March.
McLeod ran a 9.99 100 in his outdoor debut this spring, making him the only man to have ever run sub-10 seconds in the 100 and sub-13 in the 110 hurdles.
Three-time Diamond League winner David Oliver was second in 13.48 and fellow American Jeff Porter third in 13.48.
World-record holder Aries Merritt, returning from kidney transplant surgery soon after taking third at the 2015 outdoor world championships, was fourth in 13.51.
"It was really tough. It's hard to find out you have to have a transplant and your career might be over," Merritt said. "Just to be out here is a blessing, and I count my blessings daily."
Other men's winners included Michael Tinsley (400 hurdles), Christian Taylor (triple jump), Boris Berian (800), Renaud Lavillenie (pole vault), Muktar Edris (5,000), Ihab Abdelrahman (javelin) and Charlie Grice (national mile).
Lavillenie, the world-record holder from France, tied Canada's Shawn Barber with each clearing 19 feet, 0¾ inches, but Lavillenie won with fewer misses.
Former University of Oregon athlete English Gardner won the women's 100 in 10.81 on her former home track, just 0.02 off her personal best.
The U.S. 100 champion in 2013, Gardner ran legs on the past two silver medal 400 relay teams.
Eighteen-year-old Vashti Cunningham was fifth in the high jump at 6-3½, well off the 6-6¼ she cleared to win the world indoor championship, as the youngest woman ever to win at that meet.
Chaunte Lowe won the high jump at 6-4¾.
Other women's winners included Tori Bowie (200) and Shaunae Miller (400).