Justin Gatlin holds off youngsters to win 100 at nationals
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) Justin Gatlin showed the youngsters that age is just a number. As in, get down the track quick and post a good one.
A changing of the guard? Not on his watch.
The 35-year-old Gatlin surged past up-and-comer Christian Coleman to win the 100 meters on Friday night at the U.S. track and field championships. To celebrate, Gatlin sidestepped back down the track.
At 21 and coming off an NCAA title, Coleman was the sprinter all set to usher in a new era. It will have to wait.
Gatlin finished in 9.95 seconds to edge Coleman by 0.03 seconds. Both are products of the University of Tennessee and both are now Nike-sponsored runners, with Coleman just signing a three-year deal. Christopher Belcher finished third.
''These guys are just starting their career off,'' said Gatlin, who's been dealing with nagging quad/groin injuries. ''I have to make sure I stay hungry.'''
Awaiting the trio in August, Jamaican Usain Bolt for the world championships in London.
''The sweet thing about it is there are two hungry guys who have no nervousness about (Bolt), and are hungry to make a name for themselves,'' Gatlin said.
Gatlin proved he still has plenty left, too.
''He never lost it. He's a good competitor,'' Coleman said. ''It was a good race. Looking forward to many more.''
In the women's final, Olympic silver medalist Tori Bowie got off to a blazing start and never looked back. She finished in 10.94 seconds to beat Deajah Stevens. Ariana Washington was third, while Allyson Felix finished last.
The highlights of Day 2 from nationals:
DID YOU SEE THAT
Paralympian Patrick ''Blake'' Leeper, running on carbon-fiber prosthetics, ran 45.25 seconds in the semifinals of the 400 meters to break the T43 world record held by Oscar Pistorius of South Africa. Leeper wound up seventh in his heat and didn't qualify for the final.
''Pretty cool to say I broke it. I'm in the world record books,'' said Leeper, who was born without legs due to a congenital birth defect.
Supposedly, the Wikipedia page for decathlete Trey Hardee listed him as retired. He showed that wasn't true by winning the competition Friday.
''Here's the thing: I never went anywhere, so I'm not back. I'm just old,'' Hardee said. ''Officially, the 2017 U.S. champion in the decathlon is not retired.''
''It's unfortunate, because for sure every time I come out to the track and compete, I want to put on a show. This time, I have to be smart. I want to wear the USA uniform and bring home a medal (in London). That's what it's really about,'' two-time Olympic triple jump gold medalist Christian Taylor, who was required by rules to compete at nationals even though he has a wildcard spot to worlds. He fouled on his first attempt and then called it a day. He flew in from Amsterdam the night before.
Teenager Candace Hill dominated the 100 to win the junior national championship and earn a trip to Pan American junior championships in Peru. She's hoping the confidence carries over to Saturday, when she steps up to the senior level for the 200. A trip to London will be on the line.
''This reminds me of what my potential is,'' said the 18-year-old Hill, who signed a 10-year sponsorship deal with ASICS in December 2015.
FACTS & FIGURES
Vashti Cunningham won the high jump. She's the daughter of longtime NFL quarterback Randall Cunningham. ... Paul Chelimo set a meet record in winning the 5,000. ... Will Claye won the triple jump. ... Shelby Houlihan held off Shannon Rowbury for the victory in the women's 5,000.
World record holder Keni Harrison goes for the title in the 100-meter hurdles Saturday. She's already qualified for worlds, courtesy of her Diamond League title. She hasn't raced much since breaking her hand at a meet in early May.