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Gatlin storms to season-leading 200-meter Monaco victory

MONTE CARLO, Monaco--Justin Gatlin stormed to the fastest 200-meter of the year at the Monaco Diamond League meeting on Friday as the American recorded the eighth fastest time ever in the distance.

The 32-year-old won in a time of 19.68 seconds, just two weeks after he clocked a season-leading 9.80 seconds in the 100-meter at Lausanne. Only six men have run faster in the blue riband event.

Gatlin was the 2004 Olympic gold medalist in the 100-meter and 200-meter world champion in 2005 before he served a four-year doping ban.

But in the injury-enforced absence of world record holder Usain Bolt this season, the American veteran has seized his opportunity to dominate global sprinting in 2014.

Gatlin finished ahead of Jamaica's Nickel Ashmeade (19.99 seconds) and Christophe Lemaitre of France (20.08).

Friday's performance was the eighth fastest of all time although Bolt remains the king of the sport with his world record 19.19 seconds.

America's Tyson Gay, who only returned to action recently after a doping ban, was fourth.

“I started like it was a 100 meters race and I continued to push off the bend. I am surprised because it was my first time under 20 seconds,” said Gatlin.

In perfect conditions in Monaco, there were a host of other season bests.

In the men's 800-meter, Botswana's Nijel Amos, the Olympic silver medalist, won in 1min 42.45 seconds, improving the previous best mark of the year of Kenya's Asbel Kiprop by over a second.

Olympic champion and world-record holder David Rudisha, who won last time out in the Glasgow Diamond League meet, was fifth despite leading early on.

Kenya's Silas Kiplagat took victory in the 1500-meter, winning in 3 minutes 27.64 seconds, the fourth quickest in history, although Hicham El Guerrouj's world record of 3 minutes 26.00 seconds, set 16 years ago, remained safely intact.

Kiprop, who had been expected to attack the Moroccan's long-standing record, was second Friday in 3:28.45 with Ronald Kwemoi, another Kenyan, in third in 3:28.81.

France's Pascal Martinot-Lagarde won his fourth 110-meter hurdles of the year in 12.95 seconds but Olympic champion and world record holder Aries Merritt of the United States was only seventh in 13.47.

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U.S. sprinter Justin Gatlin reacts after winning the 200-meter men's event during the IAAF Diamond League Herculis meeting at the Stade Louis II in Monaco on Friday, July 18.

(AFP)

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