Sports Outside the Beltway

American Justin Gatlin Breaks 100 Meter World Record

Justin Gatlin has set a new world record for the 100 meters, shaving 1/100th of a second of the old record.

Olympic champion Justin Gatlin broke the 100-meter world record Friday with a time of 9.76 seconds at the Qatar Grand Prix. The American sprinter lowered the mark of 9.77 seconds set by Jamaica’s Asafa Powell on June 14, 2005, in Athens, Greece.

Gatlin won the 100- and 200-meter titles at the world championships in Helsinki, Finland, last August. He said Monday he intended to break the record in Doha. Olusoji Fasuban of Nigeria finished second Friday in 9.84 seconds, with Shawn Crawford of the United States third in 10.08. Gatlin and Powell ran 9.95s in separate races last weekend and will face each other at the Gateshead meet in England on June 11.

When Powell set the record last year, he bettered the mark of 9.79 set by Maurice Greene in Athens in June 1999. Tim Montgomery’s mark of 9.78, set in Paris in 2002, was wiped off the books after he was banned for two years in the BALCO doping scandal. Previous recent 100-meter record-hrolders included Donovan Bailey (9.84), Leroy Burrell (9.85) and Carl Lewis (9.86).

Timing races down to the 100th or even 1000th of a second seems bizarre, let alone keeping records at that level. Still, that the record has fallen 1/10th of a second since Carl Lewis’ day is meaningful. That two people in today’s race beat that record is especially noteworthy–an indication of the inexorable progress of athletes over time.

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