I was trying to get a boat ticket to Rio 2016, says Justin Gatlin
Eugene (United States): Justin Gatlin clocked the fastest 100 meters of the year to book his ticket to Rio at the US Olympic trials on Sunday.
Justin Gatlin sprints during the men's 100m final of the 2016 US Olympic Team trials in Oregon, US on Sunday. Pic/AFP
Gatlin won in a blistering 9.8 seconds at Hayward Field. The win sends the 34-year-old 2004 Olympic champion to Rio as the biggest threat to reigning champion Usain Bolt.
Gatlin, twice banned for doping offences during his controversial career, had earlier signalled his readiness by setting a season-best 9.83sec in the semi-finals.
The sprinter, who won gold over the distance in 2004 and bronze in 2012, beat Frenchman Jimmy Vicaut's previous world-leading mark in 2016 by 0.06 secs.
"I was trying to get me a ticket on that boat going to Rio," a delighted Gatlin said afterwards. "My family has a ticket and that put pressure on me to punch my ticket," said Gatlin, who confirmed he will not race again before Rio after running in the 200m here this week.
Asked if he had a message for injured Jamaican rival Bolt, Gatlin smiled and gave a thumbs up. "I don't know how you print this — but you can print that. Emoji thumb," he joked.
Gatlin will be aiming to end Bolt's Olympic dominance in Brazil, although the reigning two-time champion's participation is in doubt after he suffered a hamstring tear during the first round of Jamaica's senior trials in Kingston over the weekend.