American Justin Gatlin outclassed the men’s 100-metre field at the Rome Diamond League on Thursday as Qatar’s Mutaz Essa Barshim continued to soar by beating Ukrainian world champion Bohdan Bondarenko in the men’s high jump.
Gatlin, who served a four-year drugs ban from 2006 to 2010, clocked a winning time of 9.91secs to finish comfortably ahead of Jamaica’s Nesta Carter, while Britain’s Adam Gemili was third.
It was a repeat of last year’s success for Gatlin, who in 2013 edged Usain Bolt on the line to beat the Jamaican for the first time.
Barshim, meanwhile, had the sparse crowd at the Olympic Stadium on their feet with a string of strong performances before triumphing with a new personal best of 2.41m.
In doing so the 22-year-old — who took bronze at the London Olympics in 2012 and won silver at last year’s world championships in Moscow — matched the year’s best height set by Olympic champion Ivan Ukhov of Russia in Doha.
Ukhov was fifth in Rome, with Bondarenko in second place with a jump of 2.34. The men’s world record of 2.45 is still held by now-retired Cuban Javier Sotomayor.
“It will come sooner or later, nothing will stop me,” said Barshim, who narrowly failed with an attempt to clear 2.43.
“I don’t want to set myself limits. This performance gives me confidence. I was close to clearing 2.43 but just clipped with my ankle.”
Gatlin had beaten Bolt for the first time at this event last year, and made the most of the Jamaican’s absence to claim his second successive win in Rome.
Although the American’s time of 9.91 was slower than the wind-assisted 9.76 he set in Oregon recently and his 9.87 in Beijing, Gatlin’s ferocious start and solid final 50 metres left his rivals playing catch-up.
Carter clocked a time of 10.02 with British hope Gemili finishing well in the second half of his run to claim a deserved third in 10.07.
American Lashawn Merritt clocked a winning time of 44.48 in a dominant men’s 400m, with Youssef Ahmed Masrahi of Saudi Arabia stunning David Verburg of the United States for second place in a time of 45.14.
“I wasn’t trying to break any records,” said Merritt. “It was necessary for me to come out and work on a few things, and get another victory in the Diamond League.”
Frenchman Christophe Lemaitre, meanwhile, admitted he was lacking some race sharpness as he settled for second place in the men’s 200m behind Panama’s Alonso Edward, who set a winning time of 20.19, with American Curtis Mitchell third.
“I’m a little disappointed. I tried to get close to 20s, but the legs just felt a bit heavy. I’m just lacking a little bit of race fitness,” said Lemaitre.
Already deprived of Bolt, the Rome crowd also had to do without seeing Olympic women’s hurdles champion Sally Pearson, who pulled out during the warm-up.
In the Australian’s absence, world champion Brianna Rollins led an American podium sweep with a world’s best time of the year (12.53) ahead of Dawn Harper-Nelson and Queen Harrison.
Another year’s best time was set, in the women’s 400m hurdles, by Jamaican Kaliese Spencer who clocked 53.97 to beat Georganne Moline of the USA and Britain’s Eilidh Child, who was third.
Genzebe Dibaba made up for a below-par performance in Doha, where she finished sixth, by winning the women’s 5000m in 14min 34.99sec.
Unstoppable New Zealander Valerie Adams, the two-time Olympic champion and four-time world champion, stretched her victory streak to 48 by dominating the shot put with a throw of 20.01m.