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Gatlin targets fastest 100 metres in US

June 21, 2006 17:15 IST
Joint world-record holder Justin Gatlin takes aim at the fastest 100 metres ever run in the United States at the national championships starting on Thursday.

Gatlin, who equalled Asafa Powell's world record of 9.77 seconds last month in Doha, hopes to erase Canadian Donovan Bailey's U.S. all-comers' record of 9.84 seconds.

A tilt at the world record could also be possible in Friday's final if weather conditions are right.

Bailey set the U.S. all-comers mark in his then-world record rush to Olympic gold at the 1996 Atlanta Games.

Americans Gatlin and Maurice Greene - as well as the disgraced Tim Montgomery - have since run faster, but never in the U.S.

Gatlin inched closer to the mark with times of 9.88 and 9.87 seconds in races on wet tracks at Eugene, Oregon, and New York in recent weeks.

"It's a great time by a good athlete," Gatlin told Reuters. "But at the calibre I am running now, I think a lot of people would be like, 9.84, that was good.

"Critics and fans would love to see more and better," Gatlin added "I think I am the kind of person who tries to fulfil those wishes."

His main competition should come from world indoor champion Leonard Scott and training partner Shawn Crawford, the 2004 Olympic 200 metres gold medallist.

JONES RETURNS

The four-day meeting also features the return

of former Olympic sprint queen Marion Jones to the city where she launched her professional career nine years ago.

Jones won U.S. titles in the 100 metres and long jump at the 1977 championships in Indianapolis. She went on to become the 1977 and 1979 world 100 metres champion and won five medals - three of them gold - at the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

Her career has slumped since the 2003 birth of her son and scrutiny by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency in connection with the BALCO doping scandal.

Although accused by BALCO founder Victor Conte of using performance-enhancing drugs, she has never failed a doping test and has vehemently denied taking steroids.

Jones began a comeback in Mexico in May and has won three consecutive 100m races.

She faces strong fields in both the 100 and 200m.

World champion Lauryn Williams, 2003 world gold medallist Torri Edwards and world indoor winner Lisa Barber will race her in the 100 metres. The 200 field includes world champion Allyson Felix, seeking her third straight U.S. title, as well as Edwards, Williams and world 400 silver medallist Sanya Richards.

The men's 200 also should be fast with Olympic and world 400 gold medallist Jeremy Wariner, world silver medallist Wallace Spearmon, Crawford and college star Xavier Carter.

World-leading performances could also come in the 400 metres, men's shot put and men's and women's hurdles.

Gene Cherry
Source:
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