Justin Gatlin wins 100 meters at Prefontaine Classic
EUGENE, Ore. (AP) -- Justin Gatlin and Mary Cain both defied their ages Saturday in the Prefontaine Classic.
Gatlin won the 100 meters at the Diamond League meet in a wind-aided time of 9.88 seconds, besting fellow Americans Michael Rodgers and Ryan Bailey. The 31-year old, who won the bronze medal at the London Games, joked afterward: "I just age like wine."
Then 17-year-old Cain broke the high school record in the 800 in 1:59.51, placing fifth in an elite field that included Olympic bronze medalist Yekaterina Poistogova and Janeth Jepkosgei, third in last year's world championships.
Cain, from Bronxville High School in New York, topped the record of 2:02.04 set by Amy Weissenbach of Harvard-Westlake high in 2011.
She also is the first American junior athlete to run the 800 under 2 minutes, breaking Kim Gallagher's mark junior of 2:00.07 in 1982.
"Down that backstretch I think I was the most determined person out there," said Cain, who battled fellow American Alysia Montano to the finish. "I said to myself, `I'm going to break that two-minute barrier."'
Francine Niyonsaba of Burundi won the 800 in 1:56.72, a meet record and a world best this season. But the sellout crowd of 12,816 erupted into cheers when Cain's record was announced. One fan shouted to the high school junior: "Come to Oregon!"
"I'm not really used to this. I'm still a star-struck little kid out there, so it's really cool," Cain said.
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 hard to repair his past and was the defending champion at the Prefontaine, winning last year in 9.9 in a tuneup for the U.S. Olympic trials.
"I felt like I had a pretty good start, and I brought it home pretty good," Gatlin said. "Last year, my 20 meters before the finished line wasn't as strong as I wanted it to be. That's what we've been working on."
Gatlin took longer than any other athlete on his victory lap, stopping frequently to sign autographs and pose for pictures.
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 realized 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 events, 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.
"I still have some work do," said Felix, who says she's working to get ready for the U.S. championships in Des Moines later this month.
Beijing Olympic gold medalist 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.
In the 5,000, Kenyan Edwin Cheruiyot Soi won in 13:04.75, just in front of Olympic gold medalist Mo Farah of Britain 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 from the race a day earlier because of a stomach bug he picked up two weeks ago at a meet in California.
He decided instead to run the 5,000 instead with training partner and friend Galen Rupp.
Rupp, who won the silver in the 10,000 in London, came in sixth.
Ethiopian Mohammed Aman won the men's 800 in 1:44.42. American Nick Symmonds, a local favorite who trains with the Oregon Track Club, finished third.
Kenyan David Rushida, world record holder in the 800, had to withdraw from the Pre because of a right knee injury. Rushida had an MRI on Thursday in Eugene, revealing bruising of the bone and ligaments.