Sacramento: Justin Gatlin showed the youngsters that age is just a number. A changing of the guard Not on his watch. The 35-year-old Gatlin surged past Christian Coleman to win the 100 meters on Friday night at the US track and field championships. To celebrate, Gatlin sidestepped back down the track.
At 21 and coming off an NCAA title, Coleman was the sprinter all set to usher in a new era. It will have to wait. Gatlin finished in 9.95 seconds to edge Coleman by 0.03 seconds. Both are products of the University of Tennessee and both are now Nike-sponsored runners, with Coleman just signing a three-year deal. Christopher Belcher finished third.
"These guys are just starting their career off," said Gatlin, who's been dealing with nagging quad/groin injuries. "I have to make sure I stay hungry.'"
Awaiting the trio will be Jamaican Usain Bolt at the world championships in London in August.
"The sweet thing about it is there are two hungry guys who have no nervousness about (Bolt), and are hungry to make a name for themselves," Gatlin said. Gatlin proved he still has plenty left, too.
"He never lost it. He's a good competitor," Coleman said. "It was a good race. Looking forward to many more."
In the women's final, Olympic silver medalist Tori Bowie got off to a blazing start and never looked back. She finished in 10.94 seconds to beat Deajah Stevens. Ariana Washington was third, while Allyson Felix finished last.
Paralympian Patrick "Blake" Leeper, running on carbon-fiber prosthetics, ran 45.25 seconds in the semifinals of the 400 meters to break the T43 world record held by Oscar Pistorius of South Africa. Leeper wound up seventh in his heat and didn't qualify for the final.
"Pretty cool to say I broke it. I'm in the world record books," said Leeper, who was born without legs due to a congenital birth defect.