Shelly a non-starter, Gatlin fires again
Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce reportedly suffered tightness in her hamstring during warm-up, while Justin Gatlin responded to his critics and sent a message to Usain Bolt as the Golden Gala IAAF Diamond League meet delighted in the Eternal City.
Fraser-Pryce arrived at Rome's Stadio Olimpico more than two hours before the 200m but did not walk out with the rest of the ladies after feeling discomfort in her hamstring while she was going through her warm-up routine. Sources have described the condition as minor, but the severity of the injury has not been confirmed.
In her absence, Kerron Stewart continued to have success in Rome, posting a season best 22.88 for second place behind Jeneba Tarmoh, 22.77 with another Jamaican, Simone Facey, 22.91, taking third. Sherone Simpson had things a little rougher, crossing the line in fifth in 22.94.
Still, it's the men's 100m and Gatlin's post-race comments that have most people talking. The controversial American, who returned from a highly publicised drug ban in 2010, continued to spread his dominance in the sprints, striding powerfully to a 9.75 seconds win and further infuriating those who feel he should not have been allowed back into the sport.
It means that Gatlin now has his name beside nine of the 12 fastest times recorded since 2013 and the third- and fourth-fastest times since 2012. In fact, only Usain Bolt's Olympic Games winning 9.63 and Yohan Blake's 9.69 have been faster over the period.
Gatlin's times, and, in fact, his return to the sport have certainly rubbed a few people the wrong way. It's a position that the American says he is struggling to understand.
"I have nothing to prove. I just want to run. Good or bad, whatever is written about me - positive or negative, every day I have to wake up, come to the start line and run, so I can't let certain things get in the way of how I feel and what I need to do," Gatlin told The Gleaner. "I think people are more flustered that I'm running fast - not necessarily that I'm back. I was back four years ago, literally. I was back in 2010, so now I don't understand what the situation is."
Frenchman Jimmy Vicaut was a distant second in 9.98, the same time as Mike Rodgers (USA) in third.
Nesta Carter had to settle for fourth in 10.06, with Andrew Fisher, competing in his first Diamond League race, running eighth in 10.14. But it was a Jamaican not in Rome that Gatlin had on his mind.
"I bring competition. I bring that to the track for him (Bolt), and that will make him sharper and a better athlete," Gatlin said. "I'm a fan. He's a great runner and I love to see him run. He's poetry in motion. His confidence is something you want to see again and again."
Janieve Russell clocked a season best 54.83 for second place in the 400m hurdles behind Georganne Moline (USA), 54.47, and Eilidh Child (GBR), 54.84.
Stephenie-Ann McPherson got her best placement so far this season, taking second place in the women's 400m in a time of 50.53, but there was no stopping American Francena McCorory, 50.36, with Natasha Hastings, 50.67, finishing third. Novlene Williams-Mills, 51.68, continues to find it tough this season with another 51-second run for sixth as Christine Day finished a position behind her with the same time.
Andrew Riley - seventh in 13.58 - was left disappointed in the men's 110m hurdles, which was won by Sergey Shubenkov in 13.23, while O'Dayne Richards also found things tough in the shot put, also finishing seventh with a 20.13m effort.