Gatlin wins 200 meters showdown with Merritt

Sun Jul 10, 2016 12:10am EDT
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By Gene Cherry

EUGENE, Oregon (Reuters) - Justin Gatlin won a 200 meters showdown with LaShawn Merritt and 41-year-old Bernard Lagat made his fifth Olympic team by winning the 5,000m at the U.S. athletics trials on Saturday.

World record holder Aries Merritt narrowly missed the men's 110m hurdles team, while Allyson Felix kept her hopes of a rare 200-400 Olympic double alive by advancing through the women's 200m semi-finals.

World silver medalist Gatlin, remembering a narrow loss to Usain Bolt in last year's Beijing world championships 100m final, held off the charging LaShawn Merritt to win the 200 final in 19.75 seconds.

"About 40-50 meters (to go) I started seeing LaShawn's legs coming," Gatlin said. "I just had a flashback of Beijing all over again. I was like 'Oh no we not!'

"I just kept me poise and dove for the line."

Merritt clocked 19.79 seconds as both the sprinters qualified for Rio in a second event. Merritt earlier won the 400 and Gatlin the 100.

Merritt would not say whether he, like Felix, would try for a 200-400 double in Rio.

"I had three days between the 400 and the 200 (here), and at the Olympics it’ll be one day," he said. "I’ll talk to my coach and see how he’ll adjust training headed toward Rio, and just handle it a round at a time."   Continued...

Jul 9, 2016; Eugene, OR, USA; Ameer Webb (left) and LaShawn Merritt  (middle) and Justin Gatlin (right) react after competing during the men's 200m final in the 2016 U.S. Olympic track and field team trials at Hayward Field. Mandatory Credit: Glenn Andrews-USA TODAY Sports