Gatlin wins sprint double to extend undefeated run

Fri Sep 5, 2014 5:52pm EDT
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BRUSSELS (Reuters) - American Justin Gatlin proved on Friday he is the speed king for 2014 with a sprint double victory at the Diamond League finals in Brussels to put him firmly on course to complete the year without defeat. Gatlin, unbeaten in 16 races coming into the finals in Brussels, set a personal and season's best time in a strong 100 meters and followed that up an hour later by destroying his rivals in the 200 meters. If he wins his final race in Italy's Rieti on Sunday, he would become the first male sprinter to go through an entire season unbeaten since Usain Bolt in 2009, taking full advantage of the Olympic and world champion's exceptionally lean season.

In the 100 meters, Gatlin flew out of the blocks and crossed the line in 9.77 seconds, meters ahead of a strong field, all of them sub-10 seconds men.

Fellow American Mike Rogers was second in 9.93 and Jamaica's Asafa Powell third in 9.95. Gatlin's defeat of Rogers also made him the official 2014 Diamond League champion for the distance.

Gatlin, whose last defeat was his fourth-place finish a year ago in Brussels, took to the track again an hour later, destroying an arguably weaker 200 meters field.

His 19.71 seconds was three-hundredths of a second outside the season and personal best he set in Monaco in July. Qatar's Femi Ogunode was a distant second, several meters back in 20.15.

The 32-year-old Gatlin, who won Olympic gold for the 100 meters in 2004 and was world champion at both 100 and 200 meters in 2005, served a four-year doping ban from 2006-2010, but said he was getting better with age.

He was second behind Bolt in last year's world championships and said he wanted to challenge the Jamaican next season.

"Why not? It's not just one lane on the track when it comes to the 100 meters or any other event," he told reporters. "I feel the world wants to see a good rivalry... That's what track and field is all about."

Bolt had won the 100 meters in Brussels for the last three years but was absent from Friday's season-concluding event after a poor season by his high standards.   Continued...

Justin Gatlin of the U.S. competes during the men's 100 metres at the IAAF Diamond League athletics meet, also known as Memorial Van Damme, in Brussels September 5, 2014.  REUTERS/Eric Vidal