JUSTIN Gatlin turned back the clock with a victory in the 100 metres at the Prefontaine Classic, while Mo Farah failed to claim victory in his first Diamond League outing of the year as the double Olympic champion took second place in the 5,000m in Eugene, Oregon.
Gatlin, in a wind-assisted time of 9.88 seconds, beat fellow Americans Michael Rodgers and Ryan Bailey. The 31-year old, who won the bronze medal at the London Games, joked afterwards: “I just age like wine.”
Gatlin won the Olympic gold medal at the Athens Games but his promising career was derailed in 2006 by a positive drug test that led to a four-year ban. He has since worked to repair his past and was the defending champion at the Prefontaine, winning last year in 9.9 in a tune-up for the US Olympic trials. “I felt like I had a pretty good start, and I brought it home pretty good,” Gatlin said. “Last year, my 20 metres before the finish line wasn’t as strong as I wanted it to be. That’s what we’ve been working on.”
In the 5,000m, Kenyan Edwin Cheruiyot Soi won in 13:04.75, just in front of Farah in 13:05.88.
Farah, who won gold medals in both the 5,000 and 10,000 at the London Games, was supposed to run in the 10,000 at Hayward Field on Friday night but withdrew because of a stomach bug. He decided instead to run the 5,000 with training partner Galen Rupp. Rupp, who won the silver in the 10,000 in London, came sixth.
Ethiopian Mohammed Aman won the men’s 800 in 1:44.42. Kenyan David Rushida, world record holder in the 800, had to withdraw from the Pre because of a knee injury.
In the women’s 400, Olympic gold medalist Sanya Richards-Ross finished last in her first race since having surgery on her right big toe last September. The event featured all three medalists from the London Games, Richards-Ross, Christine Ohuruogu and DeeDee Trotter.
“It was rough today,” Richards-Ross said. “I realised I wasn’t going to really push it as well as I wanted to.”
Armantle Montsho of Botswana won the 400 in 50.01 seconds. In other women’s track events, Francine Niyonsaba of Burundi won the 800 meters in 1:56.72, a meet record and a world best this season, Hellen Obiri of Kenya won the women’s 1,500 in 3:58.58, and Ethiopian Tirunesh Dibaba took the 5,000 in 14:42.01.
Jamaican Shelly-Ann Fraser-Price won the women’s 100 in 10.71. American Allyson Felix fell to seventh.
LaShawn Merritt won the men’s 400 in 44:32, and Jamaican Nickel Ashmeade ran the 200 in 20:14 to best Walter Dix in 20:16. “This is just my second 400 in nine months. But I’m a competitor and I know every time I line up against that field I’m going to have to run, so I wanted to put a race together,” Merritt said.