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Gatlin targets fast time at New York Reebok Grand Prix

2 June 2006

By Gary Smith

Following his impressive start to the season, including a flashing world-leading, world record equalling 9.77 seconds at the Qatar Super Grand Prix leg of the IAAF World Athletics Tour in Doha, last month, Justin Gatlin now wants sole possession of the world mark.

Getting faster with each run

At the Nike Prefontaine Classic at the University of Oregon's Hayward Field last Sunday, the American clocked 9.88 seconds to out perform his main rival Asafa Powell (9.93) of Jamaica and heading into the New York Reebok Grand Prix he's now targeting a world record time to celebrate a happy homecoming.

"I think I'm going into my zone," Gatlin told reporters at the meeting's press conference on Thursday. "I'm finding my niche. I'm getting good acceleration. I'm very comfortable."

"Running fast gets addictive. You want to run faster every time. At the Prefontaine, I bumped into another runner and it was 50 degrees (Fahrenheit). That was a great time with rain"

"Here (New York), the weather will be more merciful and maybe I can run a great time."

The World and Olympic champion, who also won the 200m in Helsinki last summer, said solely owning the world record is the one thing he needs to accomplish in track and field, but to currently have a share in it is truly exciting.

"There are two different excitements from that," he said. "The Olympic gold is prestigious. The world record is excitement -- you're the world's fastest man. I'm happy to have both those accomplishments."

"I'm not 25 yet and I've done about everything you can do in track. Now I just have to motivate myself to go out there and do it again."

Ready to perform on native ground

A native of Brooklyn, though he moved at age nine to attend high school in Florida before becoming truly discovering his talent and at the University of Tennessee, Gatlin said he still has memories of his childhood growing days and is eager to display his talent in from of his family and friend.

"There is the sentimental value, being born in Brooklyn," the 24-year-old American said. "There's not a lot of tracks I can call home, that have a home feel about them, and I think this can be one of those places for me."

Gatlin will face Tyson Gay, who has already clocked 10.04 this season, Leonard Scott, the World indoor 60m champion and Bernard Williams, who was the silver medallist in Athens.

Bolt, Spearmon clashes in half-lap race

The Icahn Stadium on Randall's Island which will host Saturday's event also feature see the show down between American world silver medallist Wallace Spearmon and Jamaican World Junior record holder Usain Bolt.

Both Bolt and Spearmon comes to New York in great form. Spearmon, the current world-leader at 20.06, will face the starter with back-to-back Visa series wins, while Bolt will starts meeting with three consecutive victories under his belt, including his 20.28 victory at the IAAF Super Grand Prix Golden Spike meeting in Ostrava, Czech Republic on Tuesday.

Bolt holds a season's best time of 20.08.

More big names and big battles

Other star athletes down to compete at the meet are world and Olympic 400m champion Tonique Williams-Darling from the Bahamas, Olympic 200m champion Veronica Campbell of Jamaica, world 100m champion Lauryn Williams and former world and Olympic sprint queen Marion Jones, both of whom are from USA.

Rashid Ramzi (BRN) and Nick Willis (NZ) will clash in the men's Mile; Alistair Cragg (IRL) and Benjamin Limo (KEN) headline the men's 5000m, while world champion Michelle Perry starts favourite in the women's 100m Hurdles.

The battle for the men's Shot Put title is headlined by three powerful Americans. Current world leader Christian Cantwell, 2005 World champion Adam Nelson and 2006 World Indoor champion Reese Hoffa.

Kellie Suttle, Jillian Schwartz and Jenn Stuczynski will contest the women's Pole Vault event.

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