Former University of Kentucky track star Kendra Harrison set the American record in the women’s 100 hurdles in 12.24 seconds — the second-fastest time ever — on Saturday in the Prefontaine Classic in Eugene, Ore.
Harrison’s performance was just 0.03 seconds slower than Yordanka Donkova’s world record of 12.21.
“I am still in a lot of shock right now,” Harrison said in an interview on NBC afterward. “I’ve just got to thank God I am healthy. That was just amazing.”
In the men’s 100-meter dash, 34-year-old American Justin Gatlin came away with the victory in 9.88 seconds at Hayward Field. Jamaica’s Asafa Powell was second in 9.94, and former Lafayette High School standout Tyson Gay was third in 9.98.
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The 2004 Olympic champion in the 100, Gatlin won at the meet for the sixth time. Trying to stay focused on his race and his lane, he had a solid start and didn’t give up the lead after taking it early on. Gatlin will return to Hayward in early July for the U.S. Olympic Trials, with hopes of qualifying for the American team that will compete in Rio de Janeiro.
Gatlin admits that he’s an older athlete who’s “not about letting excitement dictate how I’m going to run and perform.”
“I’ve got to run smarter,” he said. “I’ve got to make sure that I put the right races out there, be precise each race. So, by the time I get to the Olympics, hopefully run in the finals, I'll be able to do what I can do and hopefully bring home a gold to America.”
Gatlin joked after his race that he was upstaged by Harrison.
“She stole my thunder, man, rightfully so,” Gatlin said. “American record on a one-off race, here at Prefontaine. It’s an amazing feat, especially with the women’s hurdles. It’s a grab bag. You don’t even know who’s gonna win. Watching her do that today? That’s amazing.”
Harrison’s performance wasn’t the only record-setter on the women’s side.
Bahrain’s Ruth Jebet set Hayward, meet and Asian records in the 3,000 steeplechase in 8:59.97, edging Kenya’s Hyvin Kiyeng (9:00.01), who broke the African record.
Jebet ran the second-fastest time ever, missing the world record by 1.16 seconds. Emma Coburn set an American record, taking third in 9:10.76.
Kenya’s Faith Chepnget Kipyegon won the 1,500 in 3:56.41, the fastest time ever in the United States.
Asbel Kiprop of Kenya won the prestigious and meet-ending Bowerman men’s mile in 3:51.54, leading 11 other competitors under the 4-minute barrier.
In the 400, Grenada’s Kirani James beat American LaShawn Merritt in what has become an annual showdown at the Prefontaine.
The 23-year-old James had the better kick Saturday, winning in 44.22 to take the race for the third straight year. Merritt, 29, was second in 44.39. The two have now met five times in Eugene.
Omar McLeod showed he’s nearing top form, dominating a strong 110 hurdles field in 13.06.
The 22-year-old Jamaican, who has a personal best of 12.97, won his first gold medal at world indoor championships in March.
McLeod ran a 9.99 100 in his outdoor debut this spring, making him the only man to have ever run sub-10 seconds in the 100 and sub-13 in the 110 hurdles. Three-time Diamond League winner David Oliver was second in 13.48 and fellow American Jeff Porter third in 13.48.