Mon, Jul 11, 2016 - Page 12 News List

Justin Gatlin wins 200m showdown with Merritt

Reuters, EUGENE, Oregon

Winner Justin Gatlin, runner-up LaShawn Merritt and third-placed Ameer Webb finish the 200m final at the US Olympic trials at Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon, on Saturday.

Photo: AFP

Justin Gatlin won his 200m showdown with LaShawn Merritt at the US athletics trials on Saturday.

World record holder Aries Merritt narrowly missed the men’s 110m hurdles team, while Allyson Felix kept her hopes of a rare 200m-400m Olympic double alive by advancing through the women’s 200m semi-finals.

World silver medalist Gatlin, remembering a narrow loss to Usain Bolt in last year’s Beijing world championships 100m final, held off the charging LaShawn Merritt to win the 200m final in 19.75 seconds.

“About 40-50 metres [to go] I started seeing LaShawn’s legs coming,” Gatlin said.

“I just had a flashback of Beijing all over again. I was like: ‘Oh no we not!’” he said.

“I just kept me poise and dove for the line,” he said.

Merritt clocked 19.79 seconds as both the sprinters qualified for Rio in a second event. Merritt earlier won the 400m and Gatlin the 100m.

Merritt would not say whether he, like Felix, would try for a 200m-400m double in Rio.

“I had three days between the 400 and the 200 [in Eugene], and at the Olympics it’ll be one day,” he said. “I’ll talk to my coach and see how he’ll adjust training headed towards Rio, and just handle it a round at a time.”

Ameer Webb rounded out the 200m team with an even 20 second run.

Reigning Olympic hurdles champion Aries Merritt, who underwent a kidney transplant in September last year, missed the Rio team by 0.01 seconds as he came fourth in the final.

Only the top three finishers qualify for the Olympics in the cut-throat US trials.

“I thought I had finished second or third,” said the 30-year-old, who was leading with two hurdles to go.

Officials re-read the finish photo, but did not change the results.

Home-town collegian Devon Allen surprisingly won the race in 13.03 seconds, with Ronnie Ash and Jeff Porter finishing second and third, both in 13.21 seconds.

Favorite David Oliver did not start the final after injuring a hamstring in the semi-finals.

Felix, not happy with her curve running, clocked the third best 200m semi-final time of 22.57 seconds to advance to the final.

“I was not as sharp as I would like to be but I am moving on,” said Felix, who has been slowed by a sprained ankle in April.

Tori Bowie was fastest at 22.27 seconds.

Olympic silver medalist Will Claye overtook London triple jump gold medalist Christian Taylor with a big fifth-place jump of 17.65m as both advanced to Rio. Taylor leaped 17.39m.

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