Justin Gatlin powers to 9.95 second win in Osaka (Getty Images) © Copyright
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Gatlin makes 9.95 season debut in Osaka – IAAF World Athletics Tour

World and Olympic champion Justin Gatlin won the 100m at today’s Osaka World Athletics Tour meet in Nagai Stadium, Osaka, Japan, in 9.95 seconds (wind -0.1 m/s), his first individual 100m race of 2006. Other notable winners were Bershawn Jackson (47.60) in the 400m Hurdles, Liu Xiang (13.22) in the 110m Hurdles, and Allyson Felix in the women's 100m (11.11).

Good start for Gatlin

Gatlin completely dominated the men’s 100m for the second year in a row.  He had a good start and then further extended his lead throughout the race, winning in 9.95, 0.19 seconds faster than second place Marcus Brunson (USA). Japan's Shingo Suetsugu, Paris 200m bronze medallist finished third. 

“This is a good start to the season,” said Gatlin. “I wanted to go sub-10, and to do that in my first meet sets a good tone for breaking the World record.”

"I got a good start, and can run even faster in Doha next week."

Three go sub-48

World champion American Bershawn Jackson won the men's 400m Hurdles in a time of 47.60 seconds with Periklis Iakovakis of Greece, the 2003 World bronze medallist, in second (47.82 – Greek record), also under Samuel Matete's 47.91 meet record (1999). Jackson’s time was also a Japanese all-comers record.

In third was Japan's Kenji Narisako in 47.93, a personal best, who thus became the second Japanese sub-48 seconds 400m hurdler in history. His run was also the first sub-48 by a Japanese in Japan.

“The track was very fast and I didn't expect to run that fast so early in the season. In the past I would have panicked when I was behind but I didn't do that this time and that's the main thing,” said Jackson who came from behind to beat the Greek. At 300m, it was Iakovakis followed by Narisako but Jackson took over the lead in the final 50m.

"I am satisfied with my time.  I am very sleepy after 14 hours flight from Dallas, but I tried not to think about it."

Back from injury

Olympic champion and joint holder of the World recordholder, Liu Xiang of China won the men’s 110m Hurdles in a time of 13.22. It was Liu Xiang's first race since last November's East Asian Games in Macau. He sprained his ankle in February before the start of the domestic indoor season.

“I am happy to win for the third straight year," said Liu Xiang who led from the start and never really threatened. "Two month ago, I twisted my left ankle while going down the stairs. I only started training a half month ago.  I had hoped for a fast time, but I did not expect to run 13.22. I am happy with the time."

Allyson Felix, the World 200m champion, won the women's 100m in 11.11 seconds (+2.6m/s). "I am concentrating on 100m this season. As for the 200m, I want to improve the first 100m," said Felix.

Fast 5000m races

Martin Mathathi of Kenya, bronze medallist in the 2006 World Cross Country Championships, won the men’s 5000m in 13:05.55.  The next four places were followed by Kenyan runners who live in Japan. Mathathi led the race until 2000m, before Ndambiri and then Kariuki took over the race. Mathathi took over the lead for good at 3600m and won by nearly seven seconds.

Mathathi said, "I was shooting for the personal best, but I was not able to run fast perhaps because it was my first track race (of the year). I am working on my last 1000m, and I feel that I closed the race out well.  My third place finish in the World Cross is a great confidence builder. I hope to set a personal best next week."

Lucy Wangui of Kenya led from gun to tape to win the women’s 5000m in 14:58.14.

Japanese records go in 1500m and Long Jump

Two Japanese national records were set in Osaka.  Behind Sarah Jamieson of Australia, who won in 4:03.51, Yuriko Kobayashi, 2005 World Youth silver medallist at 1500m, ran the women’s 1500m in 4:07.87, thus breaking the existing national record of Miho Sugimori (4:09.30), who withdrew from the meet at the last minute.

“I knew I could get a fast time if I tried to stay with the leaders as long as I can,” said Kobayashi, who won the national championships last year as a high school junior.

Another national record was set by Kumiko Ikeda in the women’s Long Jump.  After opening the competition with 6.61m, Ikeda jumped 6.86m under the legal wind of 1.6m/s, thus breaking the national record of 6.82m set by Maho Hanaoka at the 2001 national championships.

“I longed for a national record, so my reaction was I finally done it. Before the jump, I had a hunch that I can break the record,” said Ikeda.

Bronwyn Thompson of Australia was second (6.70m) and Hanaoka finished third with 6.54m. 

Gary Kikaya of the Democratic Republic of Congo won the men’s 400m in 45.06, with Japanese college freshman Yuzo Kanemaru second in 45.41 (new PB). Dai Tamesue, two-time World bronze medallist at 400mH, finished fifth in 46.49. "I was tired from a long trip. Since it was my first race of the season, I am satisfied with my results," said the winner.

Japan’s Asami Tanno won the women's 400m in 51.84, only 0.04 seconds short of her own national record, while Shinji Takahira, two-time national champion at 200m, won his specialty in 20.48 in a PB.

Paul Burgess of Australia won the men's Pole Vault with 5.75m, 5cm ahead of Japanese Daichi Sawano. "It was very windy (in the original location), but because the pit was moved, I was able to jump well," said Burgess.

Sawano: "In the beginning we could not even practice because of the wind. I am grateful to the organizers who decided to move the pit.  Next year at the World Championships, I hope that Pole Vault will be contested in the infield (inside the track)"

Germany's Betty Heidler with a 70.45m heave comfortably took the women's Hammer

Ken Nakamura and Agencies for the IAAF
with assistance from Yoshimasa Noguchi and Akihiro Onishi

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