Road To The Olympic Games

Jamaican Mullings holds off Gay to win 100m event

Steve Mullings held off training partner Tyson Gay to win the 100 metres at the Adidas Grand Prix on Saturday in New York.

Steve Mullings was still pressing his chest and grimacing long after clinching a second straight statement victory in the 100 metres in New York.

Cold conditions like Saturday's weather at the Adidas Grand Prix causes tightness in his chest because of mild asthma. The Jamaican needed oxygen after holding off training partner Tyson Gay to win in a photo finish.

The conditions were far from perfect for the race, with a stiff headwind of 3.4 metres per second and three false starts that trimmed the field from nine to six. Mullings wasn't fazed. The 28-year-old suddenly has emerged as the latest Jamaican sprint star, running a personal-best 9.80 last week in Oregon, the second-fastest time in the world this year behind Gay.

Still, there's no guarantee he'll even qualify for this summer's world championships, considering how deep his country is in his events.

"I don't know what it feels like to be in a championship final in the 100," Mullings said. "That's what I'm working on."

Mullings, who ran for Mississippi State, tested positive for the banned substance testosterone in 2004 and was suspended for two years. He denies ever doping.

"I've always got to walk around with a big, black cloud over my head, that people say I'm dirty," Mullings said.

"I can't let that bother me," he added. "If I sit around and think about what people say, I wouldn't have time to practice. I know I'm clean."

Mullings won in 10.26 seconds Saturday. Gay, who was slow out of the blocks, nearly ran him down. The American also posted a time of 10.26 on a chilly, rainy afternoon at Randall's Island, east of upper Manhattan.

"I was just running a little bit sluggish for some reason," Gay said of his start.

Three-time world champion Allyson Felix won the 200 in 22.92 seconds to lead an American sweep of the top four spots.

"I feel like my training is coming along," Felix said. "I'm kind of where I want to be. Got a few things to work on. It's a long season, so just have to be patient and plans things out really well."

Olympic champion struggles to last place

Reigning Olympic and world 100-metre champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce of Jamaica struggled to last place in 23.52 while trying out the longer race she once hated. Bianca Knight was second and Shalonda Solomon third.

Felix plans to decide this weekend whether to run the 400 at the U.S. championships later this month, which serve as qualifying for worlds. She said her coach was leaning against it.

Fellow American Jeremy Wariner, the 2004 Olympic champ, figured the 45.13 he ran to win the 400 was the equivalent of a mid-44-second time if not for the cold and rain. So he'll take it as an encouraging result heading into nationals.

"Under better conditions, it would have been a season's best," Wariner said.

Double-amputee sprinter Oscar Pistorius was fifth in 45.69, just .08 off his personal best. He used to be uncomfortable racing in the rain, but he's gained confidence by making sure he trains outside every time the skies open up.

The "Blade Runner" from South Africa must run a 45.25 to post the "A" qualifying time for this year's world championships. Saturday's mark in bad weather is a good sign.

"It shows I'm in the right frame of mind and have the right amount of confidence," Pistorius said, "and that this season will get better and better."

Javier Culson picked a good weekend to win at New York's Diamond League meet. Sunday is the city's Puerto Rican Day parade, and the first Puerto Rican to earn a medal at the world championships got the celebration started a day early with a victory in the 400 hurdles.

Vlasic loses for 1st time in 10 meets

Two-time high jump world champion Blanka Vlasic of Croatia lost for the first time in 10 Diamond League meets. Emma Green Tregaro of Sweden jumped 1.93 metres to beat Vlasic's 1.88.

The large Jamaican contingent in the stands at Icahn Stadium saw a victory in a longer race, too. Kenia Sinclair won the women's 1,500, which honoured nine-time New York City Marathon champ Grete Waitz, who died in April. Malindi Elmore of Kelowna, B.C., was seventh with a time of 4:10.48.

Ethiopia's Dejen Gebremeskel held off American Bernard Lagat to win the 5,000.

Danielle Carruthers of the United States took first in the 100 hurdles. Former world champion Perdita Felicien of Pickering, Ont., was sixth in the 100-hurdles in 13.27.

Nathan Brannen of Cambridge, Ont., was fifth in the 1,500 metres in 3:38.52.

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