“It’s not going to take just one person,” Gatlin said. “I can’t sit here and say I’m going to take down the world or the Jamaicans by myself. It’s going to take an arsenal.”
A bad drug test forced Gatlin to miss four years’ worth of competition. While he was away, Bolt established himself as a runner without peer. After posting a personal-best time of 9.80 seconds in the men’s 100 meters Sunday, Gatlin provided hints that a competitive race might await Bolt in London.
At the very least, Gatlin certainly isn’t willing to concede anything to Bolt, Yohan Blake or Asafa Powell, who’ve combined to post five of the six fastest 100-meter times the world has seen this year.
“I don’t think I would come back to a sport where I’m okay with getting second or third,” Gatlin said.
Gatlin’s American teammates aren’t much for consolation prizes either. Tyson Gay, who missed a full year of competition due to a hip injury, finished second to Gatlin on Sunday with a time of 9.86. “Bittersweet,” he called the finish.
“I always want to win,” he said. “Came in second. I guess at the end of the day, it’s about making the team, so I got to make sure I turn this little frown into a happy face.”
Ryan Bailey (9.93) finished third and will accompany Gay and Gatlin to London. Walter Dix, the reigning national champ, tweaked his hamstring in the day’s semifinal race and finished last in the final (10.95), more than a second behind the winner.
Sunday’s other big story unfolded slowly away from the track. Following the men’s race, U.S. Track and Field officials inched closer to determining the precise outcome of the women’s 100 meters, which was run one day earlier. That race finished with a dead heat tie for third place between Allyson Felix and Jeneba Tarmoh.
Because only three Americans can compete in the women’s 100 in London, either Felix or Tarmoh will not make the team in that event, but the USATF had no procedures in place to break the tie.
After more than 24 hours of deliberating, the organizations announced Sunday evening that the third sprinter will be selected by either a run-off or a coin flip. The two athletes will have an opportunity to decide which they prefer, but it all must be sorted out by the end of the trials next weekend.
As of Sunday evening, the athletes had yet to notify USATF of their preference.
By comparison, the men’s 100-meter final was a lot simpler to understand. Gatlin was fast out of the blocks and breezed down the track. His finish was the best of his career and the fastest by an American since Gay’s 9.79 in April 2011.