Justin Gatlin wins in photo finish, Allyson Felix beaten in season finale
Justin Gatlin barely held off a Qatari sprinter, while Allyson Felix lost to the World champion in the 200m in a possible Rio preview, concluding the top-level track and field season in Brussels on Friday.
Gatlin clocked 9.98 to win the 100m, the same time as Nigerian-born Qatari Femi Ogunode, though the photo finish went to the American in lane five (the first part of the jersey/kit to cross the finish line counts, not the head).
Running into a -0.4 m/s headwind, Gatlin slowed from his five previous 100m races (including first-round and semifinal heats at Worlds) -- 9.80, 9.77, 9.83, 9.78, 9.75.
Jamaican Asafa Powell, the former world-record holder who hasn’t finished ahead of Gatlin in a race since 2004, was fifth in 10.04.
Gatlin then skipped the 200m he was originally slated to run a little more than an hour later. Ogunode did not skip that race and won it in 19.97, beating a field that included World 400m champion Wayde van Niekerk (fourth, 20.37).
Gatlin said he withdrew from the 200m because he “felt something” in his right quad after the first 75 meters of the 100m, according to the Diamond League.
“I still went for the warming up of the 200 meter, but my muscles still felt hard so my coach advised not to start,” Gatlin said. “Next season is very important, so I wouldn’t risk an injury.”
Gatlin competed for the first time since he suffered his first defeats in two years at the World Championships, coming second to Usain Bolt in the 100m and 200m.
“I remember that I won medals, not that I lost,” Gatlin said of Worlds on Friday, according to the Diamond League.
The Netherlands’ Dafne Schippers, the World champion, beat Felix, the Olympic champion, in the 200m, solidifying Schippers’ status as Olympic 200m favorite going into 2016.
Schippers clocked 22.12, pulling away slightly from Felix on the straightaway and raising her right arm and right index finger in before crossing the finish line. Felix was second in 22.22.
“It’s quite logical Schippers beat me because I’m not the sharpest 200m runner at the moment,” Felix said, according to the Diamond League. “My switch to the 400m definitely took away some of my speed.”
At Worlds, the former heptathlete Schippers won the 200m title in 21.63, which was .06 faster than Felix’s personal best. Felix chose not to race the 200m at Worlds because the 200m semifinals were the same night as the 400m final, and Felix preferred the 400m.
Felix said after winning the Worlds 400m title that she would definitely race the 200m at the 2016 Olympic trials with hopes of definitely contesting it at the Olympics. She said she may or may not try to run the 400m at the Olympics, too.
The next top-level outdoor international meet will be in the spring. However, top U.S. sprinters could compete in the World Indoor Championships (where they have 60m and 400m but not 100m or 200m) in Portland, Ore., in March.
In other Brussels track action, 2008 Olympic champion Dawn Harper-Nelson won the 100m hurdles in 12.63 seconds, leading a U.S. sweep followed by Sharika Nelvis (12.65) and Jasmin Stowers (12.76).
At Worlds, the U.S. entered that event with hopes of sweeping places one through four but finished with zero medals. Harper-Nelson crashed in the Worlds semifinals Aug. 28.
Nelvis owns the fastest time in the world this year (12.34) and Stowers is No. 2 (12.35). Jamaica’s Danielle Williams won the World title in 12.57.
World silver medalist Shaunae Miller of the Bahamas powered past American Francena McCorory in the final straightaway of the 400m in Brussels. McCorory was also passed late in the U.S. Championships final to fail to make the Worlds 400m, despite having the two fastest times in the world for the year going into that final.
In the 400m hurdles, World champion Nicholas Bett of Kenya finished seventh and complained of stomach problems maybe caused by food, according to the Diamond League.
In Brussels field action, Olympic and World champion Christian Taylor outdueled Cuban rival Pedro Pablo Pichardo. Taylor leaped 17.59 meters to Pichardo’s 17.06. At Worlds, Taylor triple jumped 18.21 meters, second all time to Great Britain’s Jonathan Edwards’ 18.29 meters from 1995.
The 2015 World champion Joe Kovacs, 2011 and 2013 World champion David Storl and 2008 and 2012 Olympic champion Tomasz Majewski had a shot put showdown in Brussels.
None finished in the top two.
Australian Tom Walsh prevailed with a 21.39-meter throw, a distance that would have placed fifth at Worlds. Kovacs was third, Storl fourth and Majewski seventh.
Renaud Lavillenie exacted a little revenge against Shawn Barber, clearing 5.95 meters to win the pole vault. The Canadian Barber, who was second with a 5.85-meter clearance, upset the French world-record holder at Worlds.
Colombian two-time World champion Caterine Ibarguen won her 30th straight triple jump competition, according to the track stats website Tilastopaja. Her last loss was the 2012 Olympics, when she earned silver.
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