Gatlin’s 9.8 time — five-hundredths of a second faster than his gold-medal performance at the 2004 Olympics — is the third fastest in the world this year. Only Bolt has done better — the world record-holder won in 9.76 seconds last month in Rome, and he ran in 9.79 in Oslo 2 ½ weeks ago.
“A lot of people are probably saying the comeback is here,” Gatlin said. “I feel like until I make it to that podium at the Olympics and do what I’m supposed to — fulfill my dreams — that’s my goal.”
Both Gay and Gatlin are in the midst of unique comeback stories, Gatlin returning from suspension and Gay from two surgeries.
Gay went 12 months without a competitive race and wasn‘t even able to jog until March. The trials marked just the second time this season Gay lined up in the blocks.
He left a news conference early Sunday because of cramping but said his hip felt okay during the race. He said he’ll focus the next month on resting his body and making sure he’s physically prepared for London and the Jamaican sprinters.
“I know all those guys are already sharp, they’re running great times,” Gay said. “I know it’s going to be tough. I’m just going to keep on fighting.”
Jamaica’s Olympic track trials begin Thursday, with the 100-meter finals scheduled for Friday, which will provide the biggest indicator to date as to whether the Americans have closed the gap that stung U.S. track four years ago in Beijing.
Notes: A total of 21 athletes earned spots on the Olympic team Sunday. In the women’s 400 meters, Sanya Richards-Ross earned a spot on her third Olympic team, winning with a time of 49.28 seconds, the world’s best finish this year. She was followed by Dee Dee Trotter (50.2) and Francena McCorory (50.43). . . .
LaShawn Merritt will have a chance to defend his gold-medal performance from the 2008 Summer Games after winning the men’s 400 with a time of 44.12 seconds, the best time anyone has posted this year. Tony McQuay (44.49) finished second and Bryshon Nellum (44.80) third. Jeremy Wariner failed in his bid to make his third Olympic team, finishing sixth with a disappointing time of 45.24. . . .
The women’s pole vault was won by Jennifer Suhr (15 feet 1 inch) and she’ll be joined in London by Becky Holliday (14-11) and Lacy Janson (14-9). . . . Marquise Goodwin’s jump of 27 feet 4 inches was good enough to win the men’s long jump. The University of Texas athlete became the first collegian to win an NCAA title and the Olympic trials in the same year since 1960. He was followed by William Claye (27 feet) and George Kitchens Jr. (26-11 ¼). . . .
Stephanie Brown Trafton had no trouble besting the women’s discus field (213 feet 10 inches) and will represent Team USA alongside Aretha Thurmond (204-2) and Suzy Powell-Roos (197-6). . . . Reese Hoffa is headed to his third Olympics after throwing the shot put 72 feet 2 ¼ inches. He’ll be joined by Ryan Whiting (70-¾) and Christian Cantwell (69-9 ¾).