Doha, Qatar Olympic champion. World champion. Now, Justin Gatlin is the world record holder, too. The American sprinter broke the 100-meter record Friday with a time of 9.76 seconds at the Qatar Grand Prix. He shaved one-
hundredth of a second off the mark of 9.77 seconds set by Jamaica's Asafa Powell on June 14, 2005, in Athens, Greece.
"This was a perfect race," Gatlin said. "I am a competitor, and I promised I would get the world record, and I have done it. I don't go for world records. They come to me."
The 24-year-old Gatlin won the 100 and 200 at the world championships in Helsinki, Finland, last August. He said Monday he intended to break the record in Doha, where the race was run at night under floodlights to avoid the extreme daytime heat. Even so, it was 82 degrees at race time.
"It is amazing I did it," Gatlin said. "It took a lot of discipline and dedication. You will see many more performances like this from me in the future."
Gatlin was quick out of the starting blocks, but was even with American teammate Terrence Trammell halfway through the race. He surged into the lead in the final 40 meters.
"I was thinking be patient ... and bring it home," Gatlin said. "I put a lot of heart into the race. Now I can say I'm the fastest in the world, and it feels great."
Olusoji Fasuba of Nigeria finished second in 9.84, with Shawn Crawford of the United States third in 10.08.
Gatlin went over to the stands and hugged members of the U.S. team, including women's 200-meter world champion Allyson Felix, as the crowd of 10,000 gave him a standing ovation.
He then knelt on the track with a bouquet a flowers presented by a Qatari hostess and posed for photographs next to the electronic scoreboard showing his time of 9.76.
For breaking the record, Gatlin gets a $100,000 bonus from the International Association of Athletics Federations. The Qatar federation said it would chip in an additional $30,000.