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Gatlin struggles to victory in Japan

Us sprinter Justin Gatlin (right) in action during the Golden Grand Prix in Kawasaki, on May 21, 2017 © AFP / Toru YAMANAKA

KAWASAKI, Japan, May 21 – American Justin Gatlin, so often the pantomime villain of men’s sprinting, returned to winning form with a pedestrian 100 metres victory in Japan on Sunday.

The veteran 35-year-old, a two-time doping offender, recovered from a poor start in Kawasaki to win the Golden Grand Prix in 10.28 seconds into a slight headwind as he pipped Japan’s Aska Cambridge by three hundredths.

Japanese hope Abdul Hakim Sani Brown struggled home in fourth in 10.42 behind Shuhei Tada (10.35), while China’s Su Bingtian failed to build on victory in Shanghai earlier this month as he slumped to fifth.

“I’ve been a little injured so I haven’t been able to train as hard as I want to,” Gatlin told reporters. “But I’ve been working on my top-end speed and my finish and that helped me out today.”

After the race, Gatlin predicted that sprint king Usain Bolt might not have it all his own way in his swansong at this summer’s world championships in London.

“Man, it’s going to be exciting,” said Gatlin, who helped the United States to victory at the IAAF World Relays in April but was beaten into fourth in Doha earlier this month.

“Not only is Usain going to show up for his last run, he’s a great competitor so you know he’s going to show up to race.

“But you also have so many young athletes who are ready to fill that void,” added Gatlin, who along with Andre de Grasse trailed home behind South Africa’s Akani Simbine at the Diamond League meet in Doha.

“They’re going to show up ready to run very fast. Everyone is pacing themselves and not running very, very fast early so that they can run very fast for the finals.”

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Canada’s Aaron Brown won the men’s 200 metres in 20.62 with American Dedric Dukes runner-up in 20.71 and Japan’s Kenji Fujimitsu third in 20.93.

London Olympic bronze medallist Timothy Kitum took gold in the 800m with a time of 1:47.03 while Kenya’s Paul Tanui, who took silver behind Mo Farah in the 10,000m at last year’s Rio Olympics, won the 3,000m in 7:52.67.

Rio champion Thomas Rohler eased to victory in the men’s javelin, the German producing a best throw of 86.55 metres to beat Taiwan’s Huang Shih-Feng (82.57) and Czech Jaroslav Jilek (82.46).

“To win the Olympics was a massive goal of mine,” said Rohler. “It’s changed my life and javelin has suddenly become a popular sport in Germany, which is a cool thing.”

Former European champion Ivet Lalova-Collio won the women’s 100m in 11.40 seconds, edging out Americans Tawanna Meadows (11.44) and Tianna Bartoletta (11.47).

Bartoletta won the women’s long jump — in which she took gold at the Rio Olympics and the 2015 world championships — with a best effort of 6.79 metres on her second leap.

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