Justin Gatlin continued his blazing start to the season, winning a 100m in Rome in 9.75 seconds on Thursday. Gatlin, the 2004 Olympic champion five years removed from a four-year doping ban, beat the second-place finisher, France’s Jimmy Vicaut, by .23.
Usain Bolt, who hasn’t run faster than 9.98 since 2013 and missed much of last season due to injury, was not in the Rome field.
Gatlin, who ran a personal best 9.74 at age 33 in Doha on May 15, is the only man to break 9.80 since Bolt won the 2013 World title in 9.77. Gatlin has done so three times in that span.
“I feel confident running times around the 9.70s,” Gatlin said, according to the IAAF. “I do not think of beating Usain Bolt now because the [World] Championships is not tomorrow. … 9.6 should be possible in the summer.”