Prefontaine Classic: Gatlin in form, Harrison shines

Gatlin said he was pleased with his winning performance but saved his biggest praise for US Olympic teammate Harrison, who finished just shy of the long-standing world record of 12.21 as she stormed to victory in 12.24.

Kendra Harrison, right, clears the last hurdle ahead of Tiffany Porter, left, and the rest of the field on her way to a win in the women's 100-meter hurdles at the Prefontaine Classic athletics meet in Eugene.   -  AP

Justin Gatlin led wire-to-wire to capture the 100 metres at the Prefontaine Classic as Kendra Harrison delivered the biggest surprise with the fastest women's 100m hurdles in 28 years.

Gatlin said he was pleased with his winning performance but saved his biggest praise for US Olympic teammate Harrison, who finished just shy of the long-standing world record of 12.21 as she stormed to victory in 12.24.

"She stole my shine," Gatlin said. "It is an amazing feat."

The controversial Gatlin blasted to victory in the 100m, leading from start to finish with the fastest time of the year.

Gatlin, the 2004 Olympic champion who was banned for doping between 2006 and 2010, clocked a wind-assisted 9.88 seconds at Eugene's Hayward Field.

The world number one showed he is rounding into form ahead of the Rio Olympics, taking the tape ahead of Jamaican Asafa Powell and American Tyson Gay.

Former world record holder Powell finished second in a time of 9.94sec while defending Prefontaine champion Gay crossed in 9.98sec. The race was run with a strong tail-wind of 2.6 m/s.

"I felt like I had a pretty strong start, commanded the race to the halfway point and just held onto my form," said Gatlin.

"I felt a couple of guys come on strong at the end but I just stayed focussed on my last 20 metres and I came out with the victory."

The 34-year-old Gatlin, who has been suspended twice for doping in his career, got off to a slow start in 2016 but is now picking up steam with the Summer Olympics just two months away.

The American is coming off his fastest season ever in 2015 but suffered his only loss in the 100m on the biggest stage as he failed to win gold at the Beijing Worlds in August.

Gatlin is now a six-time winner at the Prefontaine, including five 100m wins.

Unstoppable Harrison

Harrison has been unstoppable this year as she is the Olympic favourite in an event that is being dominated by Americans who took the top five spots on Saturday.

"I didn't feel that fast but I felt really smooth," Harrison said. "When you go out there and just execute and don't worry about a time that is when the fast times come."

Bulgaria's Yordanka Donkova holds the two fastest times in history, including the world record of 12.21 which she set in August 1988. She ran a 12.24 the same year.

The Prefontaine Classic is the fourth stop on the 14-meet Diamond League series that culminates with the Brussels meet in September.

Rio gold medal threat Kirani James edged American LaShawn Merritt in a marquee showdown as the two battled stride for stride in the men's 400m. The 23-year-old James flashed across the finish line in 44.22 while Merritt clocked a 44.39.

American Micheal Tinsley easily took down reigning Olympic champion Nicholas Bett of Kenya to win the men's 400m hurdles in a time of 48.74. Kerron Clement was second in 48.87 while Bett finished dead last in 51.33.

Christian Taylor led an American sweep in the triple jump finishing with a jump of 17.76. Will Claye finished a distant second with a leap of 17.56.

On the women's side, Bahrain's Ruth Jebet held off Hyvin Kiyeng of Kenya to win the 3,000m steeplechase.

Jebet clocked a 8:59.97 to become just the second woman in history to go under nine minutes. Kiyeng also finished just off the nine minute mark as she crossed the line in 9:00.01.

English Gardner, of the US, won the women's 100m with a time of 10.81 to beat runner-up and US compatriot Tianna Bartoletta who clocked a 10.94.

Gardner was pleased with her time and said she was in the right frame of mind to do well.

"This is fantastic," she said. "I sat down and got myself together and got out there and ran my race."

Tori Bowie ran her first career race under 22 seconds to win the 200m in a time of 21.99 seconds.

Bowie, who had a strong but legal tailwind, finished ahead of Netherlands Dafne Schippers (22.11) and Elaine Thompson of Jamaica 22.16.

Support Sportstar

Dear Reader,

Support our journalism — where text and pictures intermingle so seamlessly — and help us scale up your experience as the world changes around us. Your contribution is vital to our brand of uninfluenced, boots-on-the-ground reportage that’s worth your while. Clickbait sensationalism is not for us, but editorial independence is — we owe it to you.

Read the Free eBook