Justin Gatlin narrowly edged out Christian Coleman, the fastest man in the world in 2017, to defend his U.S. title and get one last shot at Usain Bolt and perhaps his own international glory. Gatlin ran a 9.95 to beat the NCAA star, recently turned pro sprinter, who finished in 9.98 into a -0.7 headwind
Coleman, who has run a legal 9.82 this season en route to his first NCAA outdoor title, was seen as a favorite by many due to his youth and momentum heading into the trials. However, the wily veteran in Gatlin stalked down his young competitor in the final meters. Gatlin has battled through some injuries earlier in the season and was rounding into form at just the right time. Both men advanced out of their preliminary and semi-final rounds with the top two times.
Christopher Belcher another recent collegian out of North Carolina A&T will be joining Gatlin and Coleman in London, running a third place time of 10.06.
Gatlin told reporters, “At this point and time, I’m balancing accomplishment and hunger.”
“These guys are just starting their career off, they’re just getting started” Gatlin said. He continued, “I have to make sure I stay hungry and say this is something I want to fight for”.
Among the surprises, veteran sprinter American record holder Tyson Gay and Rio Olympian and 2015 World Championship Bronze Medalist Trayvon Bromell failed to qualify out of the 100 meter heats on Thursday. Both ended finishing third in their respective heats with sub-par times. Both were dealing with injury plagued seasons, with Bromell recovering from Achilles surgery this off season.
On the women’s side, Tori Bowie continued her hot sprinting streak by winning the US title in 10.94. Akin to her male counterpart, she outran two NCAA stars in Deajah Stevens and Ariana Washington in 11.08 and 11.10, respectively.
Allyson Felix, who was also in the final race, placed last, but is using it as a sharpener for her more frequented 200 meters. She already has a bye in the 400 meters as the reigning world champion.