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(Corrects LaShawn Merritt’s time in ninth paragraph.)
Justin Gatlin, the 2004 Olympic gold medalist, and former world champion Tyson Gay are headed to the London games and a potential 100-meter matchup with Usain Bolt after qualifying with quick times at the U.S. team trials.
Gatlin won the 100-meter final in 9.80 seconds yesterday at the University of Oregon in Eugene, Oregon. It was the third- best time in the world this year behind reigning Olympic champion and world record-holder Bolt of Jamaica, who ran 9.76 in Rome on May 31 and 9.79 in Oslo a week later.
Gatlin, 30, wasn’t able to defend his Olympic title at the 2008 Beijing Olympics while serving a four-year doping ban for twice testing positive for banned substances.
“This season so far has been undefeated and just trying to ride that wave,” Gatlin said in comments distributed by USA Track and Field. “I have a lot left in the tank.”
Gay, 29, finished second in a time of 9.86 seconds and qualified for the U.S. Olympic team after missing most of the past year following hip surgery. Ryan Bailey is the third member of the American 100-meter team after running 9.93 to beat Michael Rodgers by one-hundredth of a second.
“I’m on my way up,” Gay said. “This is only my second race of the year and I only started training in March.”
Walter Dix, the 2008 Olympic bronze medalist, finished eighth after straining a muscle in his left leg during the semifinals. Dix is also slated to run in the 200 meters starting in four days.
The third women’s 100-meter spot may be decided by a run- off after Jeneba Tarmoh and Allyson Felix finished in a dead heat two days ago. The U.S. Olympic Committee and USA Track and Field said yesterday that the runners have the option of deciding who will join Carmelita Jeter and Tianna Madison by either a coin flip or a run-off before the trials end July 1.
LaShawn Merritt will defend his 400-meter title in London after winning yesterday’s final in 44.12 seconds to lower his 2012 world-best time. Merritt was cleared to compete in the Olympic trials after receiving a two-year doping suspension, a ban that was later reduced to 21 months. He’ll be joined on the 400-meter squad by Tony McQuay and Bryshon Nellum, while Jeremy Wariner failed to qualify with a sixth-place finish after winning a gold medal in 2004 and a silver in 2008.
Sanya Richards-Ross, who was born in Jamaica and became a U.S. citizen in 2002, won the women’s 400 meters in a time of 49.28. She’ll also seek to qualify in the 200 meters.
Former world champion shot-putter Reese Hoffa will head to London after extending his season-best mark with a throw of 22 meters. He’s joined by Ryan Whiting and Christian Cantwell.
Stephanie Brown Trafton will defend her Olympic title in the women’s discus, while Beijing silver medalist Jennifer Suhr won the women’s pole vault event at the trials.
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