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Gatlin Finishes Second in the 100 at US Nationals
By Steve Ritchie - Special to the Pensacola News Journal
June 24, 2011

Justin Gatlin

EUGENE - Just before he hit the finish line in the men’s 100 meter final at the U.S. Track & Field Championships on Friday night, Justin Gatlin felt a wave of emotion sweeping over him.

At that point, Gatlin thought he was going to win and claim the national championship, but a late-race surge and a near-perfect lean by Walter Dix edged Gatlin by the thinnest of margins. Dix won in 9.94 and Gatlin was second in 9.95. Michael Rodgers placed third in 9.97. All three runners will represent the U.S. at the IAAF World Track & Field Championships in August.

Walter Dix

“For the last four years I have had so much pent-up frustration and sadness, even anger,” said Gatlin, who returned from a four-year doping suspension last August. “Two or three meters before the finish line I let it all out with a roar. I thought I had won. When I got across the finish line, I just cried.”

The race was vintage Justin Gatlin. After a decent start, Gatlin was even with the field at the mid-way point, when his strength and acceleration kicked in and Gatlin edged slightly ahead. The finish was tight, though, and all eyes turned to the scoreboard to watch the results come up.

Gatlin and the other 100 meter finalists did not have to contend with Tyson Gay, the odds-on favorite in the 100 meters. Gay reportedly suffered a hip and adductor injury during the preliminary round on Thursday, and he scratched from his semifinal heat on Friday. Unless Gay competes in the 200 on Saturday and Sunday here, he will not compete in the 100 and 200 at the World Championship meet later this summer, but he could be considered for duty on the U.S. 4 x 100 meter relay team.

Michael Rodgers
Tyson Gay

Gatlin said he was anticipating running against Gay.
“Coming out here (to Eugene, Oregon) has been a joy, racing against guys like Walter Dix and Mike Rodgers. I wish I could have run against Tyson at his best. . . I wish him well. I hope he gets well.”

After the final, Gatlin praised his coach, Brooks Johnson, for getting him ready physically and mentally to get back to the pinnacle of American sprinting.

“I put my faith in my coach and stuck with his plan and it worked out for me.”

Gatlin was not sure whether he would come back Saturday in the prelims of the 200 meters.

“I’ll see tonight about running the 200.”


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