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Gatlin chasing new records at Japan Grand Prix

5 May 2006
www.world-track.org

Olympic champion sprinter Justin Gatlin of the United States will run his first 100-meter sprint of the season here this weekend with his sights set on smashing the world record.

Chinese hurdling sensation and world record holder Liu Xiang will also participate in the IAAF Japan Grand Prix along with reigning female 200m champion Allyson Felix of the United States.

Gatlin, the winner of the 100m gold, the 4x100m relay silver and the 200m bronze medals at the 2004 Athens Olympics, will make his first individual start of the season in Osaka.

His relay team clinched a second place finish in the 4x100m at the Mount San Antonio College Relays on April 16 in California.

Gatlin will take on fellow Americans Brian Lewis and Marcus Brunson along with Japanese sprinters Nobuharu Asahara and Shingo Suetsugu.

He has expressed confidence that he can set the world record and top last year's performance when he became just the second man ever to win both the 100m and 200m at the same World Championships, held in Helsinki.

Gatlin has declared his goal this year is to run 100 meters in 9.75 seconds and break the world record of 9.77 held by Jamaica's Asafa Powell.

He has said he has no problem getting motivated for the outdoor season, even though there are no Olympics or World Championships in 2006.

"Most people would be debating in their heads what to do in a year like this," Gatlin said after the California relays.

"It is all about preparation and I am just looking at putting out superb times. All I have to do this year is focus on my race."

Liu had a disappointing injury-wracked season last year, despite winning silver at the Helsinki world championships, and will looking for a return to form starting in Osaka.

His trainers have said the hurdler has set his focus on the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing where he plans to smash the world record.

The Chinese athlete caused a sensation in Athens by equalling the world record of 12.91 seconds to win the gold in the 110 metre hurdles, becoming the first Olympic champion from Asia in a track event.

Felix, the only teen to claim a world sprint crown with the 200m in Helsinki, will run the 100m in Osaka, where she will line up against Gloria Kemasuode of Nigeria and LaVerne Jones of the Virgin Islands.

Other world-class athletes due to attend the Osaka event include Brad Walker, an American who won the pole vault event in March at the World Indoor Championship in Moscow.



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