Rome - American Justin Gatlin pipped six-time Olympic champion Usain Bolt to victory in the men's 100 metres at the Rome Golden Gala, the fifth leg of the Diamond League, on Thursday.
Gatlin came into the event buoyed by his victory in the opening leg in Doha and in Eugene last weekend, while Bolt was making his first appearance in Europe since his recent recovery from a hamstring injury.
The American, an Olympic champion in 2004 who went on to serve a four-year doping ban, had a solid start and by 80 metres both he and Bolt were neck and neck as the pair pulled ahead of the field.
As the finish approached Gatlin dipped his head over the line desperately, which was good enough to hand him the win in a time of 9.94sec, just outside his season's best of 9.91 set in Beijing last month.
Jamaican Bolt, the world record holder in 9.58sec, was second in a season best of 9.95, with Frenchman Jimmy Vicaut claiming a surprise third place finish ahead of American Michael Rodgers in a personal best of 10.02.
Bolt admitted that after weeks on the sidelines trying to recover, his technique was rusty.
"Five steps in I stumbled and I didn't feel my legs, I guess I need to do more strait work," he said.
"It's just (a question of) time this season, it's back to ground zero. I was all over the place and at the end it just wasn't me."
In the night's other shock, Murielle Ahoure of Ivory Coast clocked a new national record on her way
to pushing Olympic 200m champion Allyson Felix into second place.
Last month Ahoure had clocked what was then a
world-leading time of 22.47sec in Ponce, but the African made the most
of the absence of several top names to clock a new national record of
Felix, the Olympic champion from London, finished second in
22.64, three tenths behind her best time of the season, 22.36, set last
week in Beijing.
With the world championships in Moscow the big objective this year, Felix was philosophical about her setback.
"It's an interesting year for me: I'm trying to piece things together and make the team in a few weeks," said the American.
"I'm taking a different approach this year, taking more time off, so I was a little off.
"I'm trying to make the (US) team, run the 100 and 200 (in Moscow).
"I'll stay patient. It's what happens down the season that counts."
women's 200m field was missing a number of top names including Veronica
Campbell-Brown of Jamaica and compatriots Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, the
Olympic silver medallist in London, and Sherone Simpson.
Bulgaria's Ivet Lalova finished third in a season's best of 22.78.
Ahoure's win means she takes the lead of the Diamond League standings in the discipline, in which Felix is now fourth.Results from the Meeting Rome Men/Women on Thursday:
Johnny Dutch (U.S.) 48.31 2. Javier Culson (Puerto Rico) 48.36 3.
Mamadou Kasse Hanne (France) 48.56 4. Justin Gaymon (U.S.) 48.64 5.
David Greene (Britain) 48.81 6. Jeshua Anderson (U.S.) 49.33 7. Omar
Cisneros (Cuba) 49.54 8. Leonardo Capotosti (Italy) 50.48
David Storl (Germany) 20.70 2. Cory Martin (U.S.) 20.54 3. Dylan
Armstrong (Canada) 20.29 4. Ladislav Prasil (Czech Republic) 20.28 5.
Reese Hoffa (U.S.) 20.23 6. Asmir Kolasinac (Serbia) 20.06 7. Georgi
Ivanov (Bulgaria) 19.99 8. Maksim Sidorov (Russia) 19.99
Amantle Montsho (Botswana) 49.87 2. Francena McCorory (U.S.) 50.05 3.
Natasha Hastings (U.S.) 50.53 4. Keshia Baker (U.S.) 51.87 5. Marie
Gayot (France) 51.89 6. Olha Zemlyak (Ukraine) 51.95 7. Moa Hjelmer
(Sweden) 52.67 8. Ilona Usovich (Belarus) 53.32
Abeba Aregawi (Sweden) 4:00.23 2. Genzebe Dibaba (Ethiopia) 4:01.62 3.
Jennifer Simpson (U.S.) 4:02.30 4. Hannah England (Britain) 4:03.91 5.
Siham Hilali (Morocco) 4:04.30 6. Mimi Belete (Bahrain) 4:04.81 7. Faith
Chepngetich Kipyegon (Kenya) 4:05.31 8. Yelena Soboleva (Russia)
1. Dawn Harper-Nelson (U.S.)
12.65 2. Lolo Jones (U.S.) 12.70 3. Ginnie Crawford (U.S.) 12.90 4.
Queen Harrison (U.S.) 12.92 5. Veronica Borsi (Italy) 12.97 6. Marzia
Caravelli (Italy) 13.01 7. Alina Talay (Belarus) 13.03 8. Micol Cattaneo
1. Brittney Reese (U.S.) 6.99
2. Janay DeLoach (U.S.) 6.97 3. Shara Proctor (Britain) 6.91 4. Elena
Sokolova (Russia) 6.87 5. Darya Klishina (Russia) 6.81 6. Eloyse Lesueur
(France) 6.78 7. Sostene Moguenara (Germany) 6.68 8. Funmi Jimoh (U.S.)
1. Sandra Perkovic (Croatia) 68.25
2. Yarelys Barrios (Cuba) 64.41 3. Zinaida Sendriute (Lithuania) 62.85
4. Anna Rueh (Germany) 62.40 5. Yaime Perez (Cuba) 61.90 6. Melina
Robert-Michon (France) 61.29 7. Aretha Thurmond (U.S.) 61.18 8. Julia
Fischer (Germany) 61.06