Justin Gatlin cruised to victory in his first race of the United States Track and Field Championships on Saturday, breaking the 20-second barrier in the 200 metre preliminary rounds.
The 33-year-old clocked an impressive 19.92 seconds at the USA qualifiers for the World Championships on a stuffy day in Eugene, Oregon, and in doing so further strengthened his favourite tag for Sunday’s final.
Gatlin was particularly fresh for the race as he skipped the 100m as he has a bye in the event at the World Championships in Beijing, due to winning last season’s Diamond League.
“It’s a little hot out here, makes me feel like [I’m in] Florida,” Gatlin said.
“My coach said take it easy through the rounds, I wanted to make sure I was up in the front and qualify on placement, not time. So we’re good and going to the next round.
“I have to do what I have to do to get the job done. Right now, hopefully get some rest and be ready for the World Championships.”
Isiah Young also managed to scrape under 20 seconds, clocking 19.99secs.