Gatlin eyes dou­ble as 400m win leaves Felix fac­ing choice

The China Post - - SPORTS -

Justin Gatlin stayed on course for a sprint dou­ble World Cham­pi­onships chal­lenge on Satur­day, while Allyson Felix has a choice to make af­ter a storm­ing 400 me­ters tri­umph at the U.S. ath­let­ics cham­pi­onships.

Gatlin, a po­lar­iz­ing fig­ure who has served two dop­ing bans only to emerge as the dom­i­nant sprinter early in the 2015 sea­son, pro­duced a seem­ingly ef­fort­less 19.92 sec­onds to cruise into the 200 me­ters semi­fi­nals.

Gatlin won his heat ahead of train­ing part­ner Isiah Young, whose 19.99 sec­onds made him the only other sub-20 run­ner in the heats.

“I felt com­fort­able,” said Gatlin, who opted out of the 100 me­ters won by Tyson Gay on Fri­day be­cause his 2014 Diamond League ti­tle gives him a World Cham­pi­onships wild card in that event.

“Take it easy, rest right now and get ready for the bat­tle to­mor­row,” he said of his mind­set for the heats, with semi­fi­nals and the fi­nal set for Sun­day.

With Gay and 100 me­ters run­ner- up Trayvon Bromell sit­ting out the 200 me­ters, Dedric Dukes clocked the third- fastest time of the morn­ing, 20.15, with Ter­rel Cot­ton fourth- fastest in 20.16.

Gatlin, who owns the top times in the world this year in the 100 me­ters (9.74) and 200 me­ters (19.68), has made no bones about his de­sire to chal­lenge Ja­maican su­per­star Usain Bolt in both at the Au­gust 22-30 World Cham­pi­onships in Bei­jing.

But Felix, the Olympic 200 me­ters cham­pion who has a wild card into the Bei­jing 200 me­ters, says the World Cham­pi­onships sched­ule won’t let her at­tempt a 200-400 me­ters dou­ble as she did in 2011, even though she is now el­i­gi­ble for both.

Felix, who won 2011 world sil­ver in the 400 me­ters, ran down Natasha Hast­ings in the fi­nal 100 me­ters to win in 50.19.

“I didn’t know I had her, I just knew I wanted to dig deep and leave it all on the track,” Felix said.

With the 200 me­ter semi­fi­nals and 400 me­ter fi­nal at Bei­jing sched­uled to be 70 min­utes apart, Felix will opt for one or the other, a de­ci­sion that will ul­ti­mately rest with coach Bobby Kersee.

Her own emo­tions on the mat­ter are mixed.

“I feel like I still haven’t reached my po­ten­tial there,” she said of the 400. “I feel like I could chal­lenge my­self there. But I still love the 200, it’s dif­fi­cult to be out of it even to­mor­row.”

Her de­ci­sion will be cru­cial for Fran­cena McCorory, the fastest woman in the world in the event the past two years.

McCorory fin­ished fourth on Satur­day in 50.88, and will only be able to race at Worlds if Felix opts out.

“I would hope to get a de­ci­sion pretty quickly to let the next per­son know if I de­cide to go the other way,” Felix said.

The men’s 400 me­ters went to David Ver­burg, who clocked 43.63 to edge reign­ing world camp LaShawn Mer­ritt (43.66).

Thanks to Mer­ritt’s bye, Ver­non Nor­wood and Bryshon Nel­lum also punched their tick­ets to Bei­jing with their third- and fourth-place fin­ishes.

Harper-Nel­son Bei­jing bound

Vet­eran Dawn Harper-Nel­son, the 2008 Olympic cham­pion and 2012 sil­ver medal­list, won the 100m hur­dles in 12.55 sec­onds, ahead of Keni Har­ri­son (12.56) and Sharika Nelvis (12.59).

The top trio will be joined on the team for Bei­jing by de­fend­ing world cham­pion Brianna opted out of the fi­nal.

But Jas­min Stow­ers, who headed the sea­son’s best list be­fore Nelvis’s ef­fort on Fri­day missed out on a Bei­jing berth, fin­ish­ing fifth in 12.65.

“I’m a gamer,” 31- year- old Harper-Nel­son said of beat­ing the women who had dom­i­nated so far this sea­son. “I love to go out there and com­pete.

“I knew these ladies were ready and I said ‘Dawn, you have to be on your A-game to­day in or­der to make that team.”

Tianna Bar­to­letta won the women’s long jump with a world-lead­ing leap of 7.12 me­ters.

Bar­to­letta, the 2005 world cham­pion, im­proved on the pre­vi­ous sea­son’s best of 6.99 by Cana­dian Christa­bel Nettey, and also beat reign­ing world cham­pion Brit­tney Reese who set­tled for sec­ond with a leap of 6.97. Janay DeLoach (6.95 me­ters) was third.

Rollins, who

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