Athletics: Gatlin off to flying start in Doha

Justin Gatlin (left) of the United States sprints to win the 100m men's race at the Diamond League athletics meeting at the Suhaim bin Hamad Stadium in Doha on May 15, 2015. Gatlin set a world best time for 2015 at a Diamond meeting when he stormed t
Justin Gatlin (left) of the United States sprints to win the 100m men's race at the Diamond League athletics meeting at the Suhaim bin Hamad Stadium in Doha on May 15, 2015. Gatlin set a world best time for 2015 at a Diamond meeting when he stormed to a 100m sprint victory in 9.74sec, making him the fifth fastest man ever. -- PHOTO: AFP 

DOHA (AFP) - American Justin Gatlin stormed to victory at the Diamond League opener in Doha on Friday winning the 100m in 9.74sec to serve notice to his rivals and notably Usain Bolt ahead of the world athletics championships in Beijing in August.

The 33-year-old Gatlin, who has served two doping bans, clocked 9.74 seconds - a world best for this year - making him the fifth fastest man ever.

Gatlin bettered his best mark of 9.77 which he achieved in Brussels last September.

World record holder Bolt (9.58sec) was absent in Doha but the message from Gatlin was loud and clear. In 2014, Gatlin also recorded six of the seven fastest times of the year.

The American finished ahead of US relay team-mate Michael Rodgers, who came in second at 9.96sec, and third-placed Keston Bledman of Trinidad and Tobago (10.01).

In ideal conditions, Cuban triple jumper Pablo Pichardo jumped 18.04m, the third longest ever in the event, as world champion Teddy Tamgho suffered a ruptured Achilles tendon.

The 21-year-old Pichardo can now target Britain's Jonathan Edwards world record of 18.29m.

Tamgho, 25, was preparing for his third attempt when he pulled up short holding the back of his leg, and after lying down on the track was quickly stretchered off by medical staff.

"Achilles tendon ruptured, I'm leaving to undergo surgery at Aspetar," a Doha clinic specialising in sports, Tamgho said on his Twitter account.

Tamgho had achieved a jump of 17.24m on his second attempt.