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Gatlin and Farah head up glittering Monaco meet

Thursday July 16 2015

US Gold medallist Justin Gatlin competes during the men's 100m final of the Gyulai Istvan Memorial - Hungarian Athletics Grand Prix at the athletic centre of Szekesfehervar, Hungary on July 7, 2015. PHOTO | ATTILA KISBENEDEK |

US Gold medallist Justin Gatlin competes during the men's 100m final of the Gyulai Istvan Memorial - Hungarian Athletics Grand Prix at the athletic centre of Szekesfehervar, Hungary on July 7, 2015. PHOTO | ATTILA KISBENEDEK |  AFP

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By AFP
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MONACO

Another sparkling line-up, including in-form Justin Gatlin and under-the-spotlight Mo Farah, will take to the track and field in Monaco on Friday as athletes fine tune preparations for next month's world championships.

Jamaican sprint star Usain Bolt again sits out a trip to Monte Carlo, instead opting to race in the London Anniversary Games later this month having battled a pelvic injury.

Despite his absence, the men's 100m at the 10th stage of the Diamond League is an impressive one.

American Gatlin, who has served two doping bans, notched up his 26th successive sprint victory at Lausanne last week, confirming himself as favourite to take Bolt's double sprint titles at the Beijing worlds should the towering Jamaican be slightly off form and fitness.

Gatlin, the 2004 Olympic 100m gold medallist and 2005 double world sprint champion before returning from a second four-year ban to win the 2012 world 60m indoor title, Olympic bronze at the London Games and a world silver in Moscow a year later, will be up against the world's second fastest man in Tyson Gay and the up-and-coming , the 20-year-old US track sensation who ran a personal best of 9.84sec in Eugene in June.

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"Theoretically I never had any injuries, I've been away from the sport for four years — I literally didn't run for four years, so my body's been rested," Gatlin told AFP of his longevity and current prowess.

"My body feels it's like a 27-year-old instead of a 33-year-old who's run those four years and feels tired.

"My being away from the sport has been a gift and a curse in a way. For me it's saddening I had to be away, but I'm able to have had adequate rest and sit back and see my opponents and their growth and use that to my advantage."

Also in the 100m mix will be Frenchman Jimmy Vicaut, who recently equalled the European record of 9.86sec, a time also matched this season by Keston Bledman of Trinidad and Tobago.

The meeting record of 9.82sec at Stade Louis II will surely be under threat, with five of the field having clocked sub-9.8sec times.

The men's 1500m also promises to be a humdinger of a race, with track fans hoping it might replicate the 2013 event.

KIPROP V FARAH

Two years ago, Kenya's Asbel Kiprop set the fourth fastest time ever run over the highly competitive event, Briton Farah pulled through on his coattails in a new European record.

That race girded Farah's speed training ahead of the 2013 Moscow worlds where he went on to win the 5,000 and 10,000m double.

There is talk the Briton, who has recently made the headlines after his coach Alberto Salazar was accused of breaking anti-doping rules, is aiming to break his own record again, tellingly with Kiprop and Algeria's Olympic champion Taoufik Makhloufi also in the field.

The women's 1500m also has a stong field headlined by Ethiopian Genzebe Dibaba, the world record holder of this event indoors, with a best of 3:55.17.

World champion Abeba Aregawi, European champion Sifan Hassan and American champion Jenny Simpson will also race, ensuring a mouth-watering contest.

American Christian Taylor goes head-to-head with Cuban Pedro Pablo Pichardo in the men's triple jump, the duo having both gone beyond the mythical 18-metre mark this season in the hunt for Jonathan Edwards' long-standing world record of 18.29m.

And Frenchman Renaud Lavillenie, the world record holder, will try to rediscover his pole vaulting mojo for Beijing after stuttering through the last couple of events.

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