Athletics: Gatlin sets new 100m record of 9.76sec

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The Independent Online

Gatlin became the fastest man in history with a time of 9.76sec at the International Association of Athletic Federations meeting in Doha, beating the record set last year by his Jamaican rival Asafa Powell by a hundredth of a second.

"I am the best of the best because I am the Olympic champion, the world champion and the world record holder now," said the ebullient Brooklyn-born sprinter. "I thought I would do it and I kept my word. I am a man who likes challenges and my acceleration today was phenomenal. It is amazing I did it. It took a lot of discipline and dedication."

Gatlin, whose time of 9.85sec in the Doha semi-final was briefly the fastest time of the year, had given an indication of his form by clocking 9.95sec in his opening race of the season in Osaka last Saturday. But his assessment of his position in world sprinting is likely to be disputed by Powell, who also ran 9.95sec last weekend in Kingston.

Powell was fifth behind Gatlin in the Athens Olympics and missed the following year's World Championships because of injury. But he secured his first major title in March at the Melbourne Commonwealth Games, and will be keen to make a point when the two men next meet in the Norwich Union British Grand Prix at Gateshead on 11 June in what could be a significant indicator of their likely fortunes at this summer's World Championships in Gothenburg.

Britain staged the last race between the two men last July at Crystal Palace, when Powell pulled up with the groin injury that prevented him running in Helsinki.

Gatlin predicted that the world record could go again later in 2006. "The timings could be further improved this year, probably in Europe," he said, after dedicating his performance to God and his parents. "You will see many more performances like this from me in the future." He has certainly given himself some time - no world 100m has been set earlier in the year since his fellow countryman Charlie Paddock ran 10.4 on 23 April, 1921.

Powell's world record bettered the mark of 9.79 by Maurice Greene in Athens in June 1999. Tim Montgomery's mark of 9.78, set in Paris in 2002, was annulled after his two-year ban following the Balco doping scandal.