DOHA, (Reuters) – The U.S got the better of sprint rivals Jamaica in the season-opening Diamond League meeting in Qatar today, with 100 metres victories for Justin Gatlin and Allyson Felix.
Gatlin overcame the steamy desert heat and a poor start to run down a tiring Asafa Powell in the closing stages to win in 9.87 seconds while Felix, better known as a 200 runner, pipped Jamaica’s former world champion Veronica Campbell-Brown in 10.92.
Despite a desperate lunge for the line, Campbell-Brown was second in 10.94 and Olympic champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce took third with 11.00.
“It was very good to get one over Campbell, especially at 100 metres,” said Felix. “Jamaica has some really good racers, and I think the rivalry is good.”
Powell was ahead for most of the men’s race but finished 0.01 seconds behind Gatlin and put his defeat down to the effects of travelling from his native Jamaica.
“The jet lag is in my legs. I tried to go, but my legs just wouldn’t go there,” he told reporters.
“I’m still happy with the time. It was an ok race, considering that I’ve only been here two days, travelling from Jamaica.”
“It’s only the first race, so I’m feeling good,” added Powell whose compatriot and world record holder Usain Bolt recorded 9.82, the fastest time of the year, in his first individual race of the season last weekend.
Gatlin, the world indoor 60 metres champion, was confident he had more to offer.
“I thought I was sluggish in the beginning, but I showed that there’s a lot left in these legs,” said the American, whose world gold in Istanbul in March was his first since serving a four-year ban for doping which ended in 2010.
“You have to see track and field as a soap opera with spikes on. “With these races, it shows who is a competitor and who’s just a runner. This shows I can run very well anywhere in the world,” he added.