Justin Gatlin (Photo : Reuters)
American sprinter Justin Gatlin beat Olympic champion Usain Bolt.
For the first time since his false-start disqualification at the 2011 World Championship in South Korea, Bolt experienced the bitter taste of defeat after finishing second to Gatlin in the final of the men's 100 meter dash at the Golden Gala meet in Rome on Thursday.
Bolt, the reigning Olympic champion in the 100 meter dash, was a little bit off in the first 50 meters despite an explosive start from the starting blocks. The Jamaican tried to rally back into the race but Gatlin built enough separation to take the victory by one-hundredth of a second
"That was ridiculous -- a perfect start and then I just cropped off," Bolt told the Associated Press after his loss. "I think it was this perfect start that threw my game off. I have to do more strength work, I guess. I think it needs just some time to get it all back together. At the end it was just not me."
Both Gatlin (9.94) and Bolt (9.95) finished under 10 seconds while Jimmy Vicaut of France finished third at 10.02.
"At least I got under 10 seconds. My legs did not feel the energy. At 50 meters I had some problems, but the rest of the race was not bad," said Bolt, who still holds the world record in the event at 9.58.
Meanwhile, Thursday's result proved to be a breakthrough for Gatlin, who finished third behind Yohan Blake and Bolt in the finals 100 meter dash at the 2012 London Olympics.
Gatlin, the 100 meter dash gold medal winner at the 2004 Athens Olympics, has now racked up three Diamond League victories this year after clocking 9.97 in Doha, Qatar and 9.88 in Eugene, Oregon.
The American's recent form put him as a serious contender to beat Bolt again on August at the world championship in Moscow, Russia.