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American Justin Gatlin Breaks World Record for 100-Meter Dash

Olympic champion. World champion. Now, Justin Gatlin is the world record holder, too.

The American sprinter broke the 100-meter record Friday with a time of 9.76 seconds at the Qatar Grand Prix. He shaved one-hundredth of a second off the mark of 9.77 seconds set by Jamaica's Asafa Powell on June 14, 2005, in Athens, Greece.

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"This was a perfect race," Gatlin said. "I am a competitor and I promised I would get the world record and I have done it. I don't go for world records. They come to me."

The 24-year-old Gatlin won the 100 and 200 at the world championships in Helsinki, Finland, last August. He said Monday he intended to break the record in Doha, where the race was run at night under floodlights to avoid the extreme daytime heat. Even so, it was 82 degrees at race time.

"It is amazing I did it," Gatlin said. "It took a lot of discipline and dedication. You will see many more performances like this from me in the future."

Gatlin was quick out of the starting blocks and running even with Nigeria's Olusoji Fasuba for the first 50 meters. Only in the last 40 meters did Gatlin surge into the lead.

"I was thinking be patient ... and bring it home," Gatlin said. "I put a lot of heart into the race. Now I can say I'm the fastest in the world, and it feels great."

Fasuba finished second in 9.84 — an African record — with Shawn Crawford of the United States third in 10.08.

Gatlin went over to the stands and hugged members of the U.S. team, including women's 200-meter world champion Allyson Felix, as the crowd of 10,000 gave him a standing ovation.

"She gave me the biggest hug," Gatlin said. "It felt like we did it and the team did it."

He then knelt on the track with a bouquet a flowers presented by a Qatari hostess and posed for photographs next to the electronic scoreboard showing his time of 9.76.

For breaking the record, Gatlin gets a $100,000 bonus from the International Association of Athletics Federations. The Qatar federation said it would chip in an additional $30,000.

Gatlin and Powell will face each other at the Gateshead meet in England on June 11.

"I will get back the record, I think I can run 9.60 with the same conditions," Powell said Friday in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, where he's scheduled to run Saturday. "This is the best I've felt in the past years. I've never felt so good and that's why I'm sure I'll break the record."

Powell is also slated to run in a meet in Oslo, Norway, on June 2, trainer Stephen Francis said.

"But I don't think he'll break it there because of the weather, but in Athens on July 3 or in Paris July 10 the record would fall," Francis said.

When Powell set the record last year, he bettered the mark of 9.79 set by Maurice Greene in Athens in June 1999. Tim Montgomery's mark of 9.78, set in Paris in 2002, was wiped off the books when he was suspended for two years based on information uncovered in the BALCO doping scandal.

Gatlin's previous best was the 9.85 he ran in winning the Olympic gold in Athens in 2004. His time was 9.88 when he won the world title last year.

Gatlin, a native of Brooklyn, N.Y., and a former NCAA 100 and 200 champion at Tennessee, is coached by Trevor Graham — the former coach of Montgomery and Marion Jones. At least six of Graham's athletes have tested positive for banned substances and Graham acknowledged he was the coach who anonymously sent a syringe of THG to the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, a key piece of evidence in the BALCO case.

"He's such a mentor," Gatlin said of Graham. "He's gotten a bad rap in the past. It's a new era. I'm not them."

Gatlin never has been linked to steroids, but he received a two-year suspension after testing positive for an amphetamine at the 2001 U.S. junior championships. The drug was contained in prescription medication Gatlin had been taking for 10 years to treat a form of attention deficit disorder.

Gatlin said his next goal is to run 9.73. He'll compete in the Reebok Grand Prix in New York City on June 3.

"I need to stay focused and not get a big head," he said.