EUGENE, Oregon, June 4 – David Oliver avenged his loss last month to Liu Xiang and Steve Mullings delivered another stellar 100m performance at the Prefontaine Diamond League athletics meeting.
Oliver won the 110m hurdles in a blazing 12.94sec to edge Liu, China’s former world record-holder who had stopped the American’s 20-win streak at the Shanghai Diamond League meeting on May 15.
Oliver’s time was the fastest in the world in this World Championships season, improving on the 13.07 previously posted by both Liu and Cuban Dayron Robles.
Jamaica’s Mullings won the 100m in a sizzling 9.80sec.
In another explosive sprint performance, American Carmelita Jeter won the women’s 100m in a world-leading 10.70sec.
Mullings came into Saturday with a world leading 9.89, set at a low-key meeting in Clermont, Florida, last month.
His American training partner Tyson Gay bettered that at another meeting in Clermont on Saturday, running a 9.79 in a wind of 1.1m/sec.
Mullings credited Gay with helping him define his focus and improve his times this year.
"I just figured out how to do it," he said. "The last couple of years I always rushed my first third. Now I’m more patient."
Mullings admitted that he was exhausted after flying in from Europe just days before.
"My body’s ripped up right now. I’m hurting," Mullings said. "I’m hurting bad. I was a little bit jet-lagged. I expected to get in the 80s, but I didn’t expect to go 9.8. It was a great feeling."
American Michael Rodgers was second in 9.85 and fellow Jamaican Nesta Carter third in 9.92 in a race run in a wind of 1.3m/sec.
Former Olympic and world champion Justin Gatlin, returning to the meeting after serving a four-year doping ban, finished sixth in 9.97.
He said he came up early in his drive because of tightness in his quadriceps, an ailment he has been having treated.
However, Gatlin said his sights remained firmly on booking a World Championships berth at the US trials here later this month.
"I have a big heart, a big appetite for competition," Gatlin said. "That’s my goal right now, to make the world team."
Liu, trying to regain his 110m hurdles dominance after an Achilles injury battle that scuppered his 2008 Beijing Olympics bid, led Oliver to the first hurdle by the barest of margins.
But the big American had powered past by the third hurdle en route to a blistering early season time in a race run with a wind of 1.8m/sec.
Liu, who had ended Oliver’s 20-race winning streak in the event at the Shanghai Diamond League meeting on May 15, was second 13.00. American Aries Merritt was third in 13.18.
"I’m just happy for a good performance," said Oliver, adding that he knew from the opening strides that he was in a good rhythm.
"I took care of business at the start — like I didn’t do in Shanghai."
Liu wasn’t happy with technical flaws at the end of his race, but pronounced himself "very happy" with the time.
"I feel very good for the timing," he said, but added: "Close to the finish my speed and power were not good."
For Jeter, controlling her race was more important than the time.
"I just wanted to execute a good race. I wanted to put a good race together," Jeter said. "Last couple of races I was running other people’s races and not my race, but today I wanted to come out and run Carmelita’s race."
Marshevet Myers was second in 10.86 and Jamaican Kerron Stewart third in 10.87.
Shelly-Ann Fraser, who has been nursing a sore back, was fourth in 10.95.
Two high-profile South African athletes came away without victories.
"Blade Runner" Oscar Pistorius, the amputee athlete trying to qualify for the World Championships, was last in the 400m won by Angelo Taylor.
Caster Semenya, whose 800m triumph at the 2009 World Championships was followed by a gender controversy, finished second in the women’s 800m, but said she wasn’t disappointed.
She closed from eighth to second on the final lap, but left herself too much to do and couldn’t threaten race winner Kenia Sinclaire of Jamaica, who won in a world-leading time of 1:58.29.
"The time is good. Under two minutes, 1:58," said Semenya, who was runner-up in 1:58.88. "Now I can train harder so I can run a fast time. It was good to be back — fans — I miss that a lot."
Botswana’s Amantle Montsho pulled off the upset in the women’s 400m, winning in 50.59 in a race in which US star Allyson Felix was relegated to third in 51.41 behind compatriot Debbie Dunn (51.37).