DOHA, May 11 (Reuters) - Justin Gatlin overcame the steamy desert heat and a poor start to run down a tiring Asafa Powell in the closing stages of the men’s 100 metres for victory in 9.87 seconds in the season-opening Diamond League meeting on Friday.
Powell was ahead for most of the race but finished 0.01 seconds behind the American 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,” Powell 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 had 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 there was more to come from him.
“I thought I was sluggish in the beginning, but I showed that there’s a lot left in these legs,” said Gatlin, whose world gold in Istanbul in March was his first since serving a four-year ban for doping which ended in 2010.
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.
Kenya’s world record holder David Rudisha eased away from compatriot Job Kinyor over the final 50 metres to win the men’s 800 in 1:43.10, the fastest time of the year.
Wearing bright red running shoes and a wide grin as he clutched his bouquet, which he later threw into a crowd of ecstatic Kenyans, the soft spoken runner said he was pleased with his performance.
”(It) is a very good time for me. I know that all the athletes want to beat me now, but I am well prepared to face the challenge.
“Great runners like (Sebastian) Coe failed to win an Olympic gold (at 800), but I’ll do my best to make it,” said the 23-year-old who did not compete at the Beijing Games after missing the Kenyan trials through injury.
The U.S. dominated the sprints with Walter Dix winning the men’s 200 in 20.02 and Allyson Felix, better known as a 200 runner, just pipping Jamaica’s former world champion Veronica Campbell-Brown for victory in the women’s 100 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.” (Editing By Alison Wildey)