Gatlin's team beats Greene's at Kansas Relays

Updated: April 22, 2006, 8:03 PM ET
Associated Press

LAWRENCE, Kan. -- Justin Gatlin backed up his coach's boasts and then made a prediction of his own, saying he will hold the world record in the 100 meters by this time next year.

"If I don't do it this year, then next year at Kansas," the 2004 Olympic gold medalist and defending world champion said Saturday, shortly after anchoring the winning 400 relay team in the Kansas Relays.

Asafa Powell of Jamaica set the current record of 9.77 seconds last year. Gatlin's personal best is 9.84, also in 2005; he has said he wants to run 9.75.

Just as Sprint Capitol coach Trevor Graham had predicted earlier in the week, Gatlin's team -- which also included Shawn Crawford, the 200 Olympic champion in 2004 -- easily broke the meet record Saturday.

The outcome of the race, the final event in a 3-hour marquee stretch dubbed "Goldzone II," never seemed in doubt. After strong legs by Dwight Thomas, Crawford and Rodney Martin, Gatlin took the baton and pulled away.

His team's time of 38.16 seconds easily broke the previous mark of 38.45, set in 2000. Gatlin, Thomas and Crawford did not compete in individual events Saturday.

It was the first relay loss at Kansas for 31-year-old Maurice Greene, the former 100 world-record holder and a double Olympic gold medalist in 2000. He has been a perennial crowd favorite at the meet since his high school days in Kansas City, Kan.

Greene, running the anchor leg for HSI, took the baton in fourth place but made up two spots by the end of the race.

"We're going to meet a lot of times this season, and it's going to be a battle each and every time we step on a track," said Greene, who also did not compete in any individual events this year. "We're all competitors, and we're all going to put on a show."

Organizers had hoped the presence of seven Olympic gold medalists would help the Kansas Relays break its attendance record of 32,000, set in 1972. Saturday's crowd of 26,111 was still the second-largest in a meet history that dates -- with interruptions only for World War II and for stadium renovations in the 1990s -- to 1923.

The Goldzone competition produced several other meet records -- including Christian Cantwell's mark of 70 feet, 3} inches in the shot put, the best distance in the world this year.

Bershawn Jackson's time of 48.34 seconds in the 400 hurdles was well behind his winning time in last year's World Championships, but still broke his own previous meet record of 48.67 seconds from 2005.

"I love to come here," Jackson said. "I've been coming here since high school."

Kevin Hicks, the 2005 indoor 800 champion, set a meet record of 1:47.58 in the 800 on Saturday. He held off a challenge from Kansas State senior Christian Smith, whose time of 1:47.91 also broke the previous record.

Allyson Felix, the reigning world outdoor champion and 2004 Olympic silver medalist in the 200, pulled ahead near the end to edge Muna Lee in the women's 100. Her time of 11.04 seconds broke Lee's meet record of 11.10 seconds, set last year. Lee ran 11.13.

Lee, running on the USA All Stars team with Felix, Rachelle Boone and Kia Davis, later anchored the winning 400 relay.

Mary Danner set a meet record of 51.66 in the women's 400, and the 200 title Saturday went to Crystal Cox, a member of the United States' Olympic gold-winning 1,600 relay team in 2004.

Leonard Scott, the world 60 indoor champion, made a late charge to edge Martin in 20.48 to Martin's 20.51 in the men's 200.

And Ladji Doucoure of France, the reigning world champion in the 110 hurdles, won Saturday's race in 13.53 seconds.

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press

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