AMERICAN Justin Gatlin has pipped six-time Olympic champion Usain Bolt to victory in the men's 100 metres at the Rome Golden Gala, the fifth leg of the Diamond League.
Gatlin entered the event buoyed by his victory in the opening leg in Doha and in Eugene last weekend, while Bolt was making his first appearance in Europe since his recent recovery from a hamstring injury.
The American, an Olympic champion in 2004 who went on to serve a four-year doping ban, had a solid start and by 80 metres both he and Bolt were neck and neck as the pair pulled ahead of the field.
As the finish approached Gatlin dipped his head over the line desperately, which was good enough to hand him the win in a time of 9.94sec, just outside his season's best of 9.91 set in Beijing last month.
Gatlin is shaping up to be one of Bolt's biggest rivals this season but said times mattered little.
"It's about the dogfight, not (clocking a time of) 9.6(sec), it's about putting a great show on," said the American.
Jamaican Bolt, the world record holder in 9.58sec, was second in a season best of 9.95, with Frenchman Jimmy Vicaut claiming a surprise third place finish ahead of American Michael Rodgers in a personal best of 10.02.
Bolt admitted that after weeks on the sidelines trying to recover and with few top level races in his legs his technique was rusty.
"Five steps in I stumbled and I didn't feel my legs, I guess I need to do more strength work," he said.
"It's just (a question of) time this season, it's back to ground zero. I was all over the place and at the end it just wasn't me."
Bolt added, laughing: "At least I got under 10sec!
"At 50m I had some problems but the rest of my race wasn't bad."
Source: The Australian