Des Moines, United States | AFP | Christian Coleman swept to victory in the 100 metres at the US championships on Friday, booking his place at this year’s World Championships with a commanding performance.
Coleman, who had comfortably outpaced world champion Justin Gatlin to win his semi-final in 9.96sec, led virtually from start to finish in the final at Drake Stadium to win in 9.99sec.
Gatlin, already assured of his ticket to the World Championships through his 2017 gold medal, elected to skip the final after his semi-final loss.
That left the field clear for the stocky Coleman, who stormed out of the blocks and rapidly put clear daylight between himself and the rest of the field.
Michael Rodgers was a distant second in 10.12sec while Christopher Belcher was third.
It was a satisfying win for Coleman, the fastest man in the world this year over 100m with a season-leading 9.81sec.
The 23-year-old will now head to the worlds in Doha as the man to beat in sprinting’s blue riband event.
“It feels great,” Coleman said after the win. “The whole goal throughout the year was to make the team. The mission’s not over.
“I came into the year wanting to win a gold medal in Doha, and this was just a step on the way to get there.”
– Celebratory milkshake –
In the women’s 100m final, rookie professional Teahna Daniels powered to an upset victory in 11.20sec.
The 22-year-old from Texas got off to a smooth start and accelerated into the lead at around halfway to pip 2016 Olympics gold medallist English Gardner for first.
Gardner finished second in 11.25sec while Morolake Akinosun was third in 11.28.
But there was disappointment for Sha’Carri Richardson, the third fastest woman in the world over 100m, who bombed out of contention and finished last.
Daniels, who only turned professional this week, meanwhile said she owed her dazzling form in Des Moines to a diet that has seen her shed 19 pounds (8.61kg) since December last year.
“Losing weight was a major thing for me,” said Daniels. “It’s been a long, long journey. I had to dedicate myself to be in the best shape I could be.
“I’m a power runner but I knew with that extra fat it’s just not going to work,” added Daniels, who was planning to celebrate her victory with a burger and a milkshake.
– Felix into final –
Elsewhere on Friday, Allyson Felix dug deep to force her way into Saturday’s women’s 400m final with a typically defiant display.
Felix, the only female track and field athlete to win six Olympic gold medals, had struggled through her opening heat on Thursday with a fourth place finish.
However the 33-year-old ran a clever tactical race in her semi-final on Friday, finishing strong to come home third with a time of 51.45sec.
That mark is still well outside Felix’s personal best of 49.26sec set in 2015, but the American star, who was racing in Iowa this week for the first time in 13 months after taking a year off to give birth to her baby daughter, was happy to reach the final.
“I haven’t raced in so long I’m just trying to use the rounds to feel myself and where I’m at,” Felix said. “It feels good to give myself a shot.
“It’s such a different mindset this time around. I don’t think I could ever say before ‘It feels good to be in a final.’
“But I just have to keep reminding myself what I’ve been through this year and just take one day at a time,” added Felix, who gave birth via an emergency C-section in November.
The men’s 400m meanwhile followed the form book, with 21-year-old prodigy Michael Norman qualifying fastest for Saturday’s final with a time of 44.04sec.
Norman will line up against 2012 Paralympic 400m silver medallist Blake Leeper in the final.
Leeper, who runs on prosthetic carbon fibre blades after being born with no legs below the knee, won his semi-final in 44.38sec.
“I’m just really trying to do my job and try to show the world that I belong here,” Leeper said.