ATHENS — Former 100m Olympic champ Justin Gatlin out-leaned world record holder Usain Bolt at the tape today at the Diamond League meet in Rome to beat the Beijing and London gold medalist for the first time in their storied careers.
“Bolt is a great competitor and a great champion,” Gatlin told reporters. “To come out here and have a victory, it just stamps that I’m having a good season… You can never count out Usain.”
Gatlin was clocked at 9.94 seconds, while Bolt came in right behind him in 9.95, and said, smiling, that he was just happy to finish under 10-seconds for the first time this season.
Bolt’s start to the 2013 season has been hampered by hamstring problems. He clocked a comparatively mediocre time of 10.09sec for the 100 metres at the recent Cayman Invitational, way behind his world record time of 9.58.
However, he entered today’s event at Rome’s Stadio Olimpico saying he was now up to competition speed. Today marked Bolt’s first significant loss since he was disqualified for a false start at the 2011 world championships in Daegu, South Korea. Bolt was also beaten by Tyson Gay in Stockholm in 2010.
Gatlin has won all five of his 100 races this year.