Con­tro­ver­sial Gatlin blazes to 200 me­ter vic­tory in an im­pres­sive 19.57 sec­onds


Con­tro­ver­sial sprinter Justin Gatlin fired a World Cham­pi­onships warn­ing shot Sun­day, win­ning the 200 me­ter ti­tle at the U.S. ath­let­ics cham­pi­onships in a blis­ter­ing 19.57 sec­onds.

“I wanted to come out and make a state­ment, and that’s what I did,” Gatlin said af­ter a ca­reer-best that im­proved on the sea­son-lead­ing 19.68 he set on the same Hayward Field track at the Eu­gene Diamond League meet­ing in May.

The 33-year-old, who com­pleted a four-year dop­ing ban in 2010, is now the fifth-fastest man of all time in the event, be­hind Usain Bolt — who holds the world record of 19.19 — Yo­han Blake, Michael John­son and Wal­ter Dix.

With his dom­i­nance this sea­son — he also owns the fastest 100 me­ter time of the year of 9.74 sec­onds — he has set the stage for a scin­til­lat­ing show­down with Bolt in both the 100 me­ters and 200 me­ters at the Aug. 22-30 World Cham­pi­onships in Bei­jing.

“I’d say the 100, just be­cause it comes first,” Gatlin said of his best world ti­tle hope. “But I’m go­ing to put all my ef­fort into both of them.

“A lot of peo­ple try to peak for the World Cham­pi­onships. I just want to main­tain,” added Gatlin, who came off the turn well in front and pow­ered home.

“I know I had a great start, at­tacked com­ing off the turn and ran a great 150,” said Gatlin, who called it “the most com­plete tech­ni­cally 200 me­ter I ever ran.”

His train­ing part­ner Isiah Young was a dis­tant sec­ond in 19.93 with vet­eran Wal­lace Spear­mon third in 20.10.

Even as he has dom­i­nated the sprint world this sea­son, Gatlin has found his past dop­ing trans­gres­sions in the spotlight, as has U.S. team­mate Tyson Gay — who booked his Bei­jing berth with a 100 me­ter vic­tory on Satur­day.

Cur­rent al­le­ga­tions also cast a cloud over these cham­pi­onships, af­ter Al­berto Salazar, coach of U.S. dis­tance run­ner Galen Rupp, was ac­cused in a BBC/ProPublica doc­u­men­tary this month of in­frac­tions.

Kara Goucher, one of the ath­letes who has lev­eled al­le­ga­tions against Salazar, fanned the flames on Sun­day, hit­ting back at the coach for brand­ing her a liar.

“I stand by my state­ments,” Goucher said, even as Rupp again voiced sup­port for his coach and their prac­tices.

Rupp Has ‘noth­ing to hide’

“I’ve got noth­ing to hide,” Rupp said af­ter a third-placed fin­ish in the 5,000 me­ters won by Ryan Hill. “We be­lieve in clean sport.”

With Olympic 200 me­ter cham­pion Allyson Felix sit­ting out, as­sured of a World Cham­pi­onships wild card, col­le­giate stand­out Jenna Pran­dini won the women’s 200 me­ters in 22.20 sec­onds. Candyce Mc­Grone was sec­ond in 22.38 and Jeneba Tar­moh third 22.44.

Reign­ing world cham­pion David Oliver won the 110 me­ter hur­dles in 13.04 sec­onds ahead of Ron­nie Ash (13.13) and Aries Mer­ritt (13.19).

Since Oliver en­joys a bye as the de­fend­ing champ, fourth-placed fin­isher Aleec Harris also punched his Bei­jing ticket in 13.25. Fifth-placed Jeffrey Porter fin­ished in the same time — los­ing out on a trip to Bei­jing by an ag­o­niz­ing five one-thou­sandths of a sec­ond, Harris’s 13.241 to Porter’s 13.246.

Although he was pleased with the na­tional ti­tle, Oliver made it clear where his pri­or­i­ties lie.

“Eight weeks from yesterday fi­nal in Bei­jing,” he said.

Shamier Lit­tle won the women’s 400 me­ter hur­dles, be­com­ing the first ath­lete since 2004 to win both the NCAA col­le­giate ti­tle and U.S. crown.

Lit­tle’s time of 53.83 gave her the top two times in the world this year, along with her sea­son-lead­ing 53.74.

Cas­san­dra Tate was sec­ond in 54.01 fol­lowed by Kori Carter in 54.41, while Amer­i­can record-holder Lashinda De­mus missed out on a Bei­jing berth as she fin­ished fourth in 54.44.

Sea­son Leader for Suhr

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Joe Ko­vacs couldn’t match his world lead­ing shot put of 22.35 me­ters, but 21.84 was enough for vic­tory over Chris­tian Cantwell (21.64) and Jor­dan Clarke (21.49).

Reese Hoffa, the 37-year-old 2007 world cham­pion fin­ished fourth, but will also head to Bei­jing with a bye as the 2014 Diamond League win­ner.

Jenn Suhr will be look­ing to add a world ti­tle to her 2012 Olympic pole vault gold medal af­ter lift­ing the na­tional ti­tle with a sea­son-lead­ing vault of 4.82 me­ters, a slight im­prove­ment on her own prior sea­son’s best of 4.81.


Justin Gatlin, cen­ter, wins the 200 me­ters ahead of Isiah Young, left, and Wal­lace Spear­mon at the U.S. Track and Field Cham­pi­onships in Eu­gene, Ore­gon, Sun­day, June 28.

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