EUGENE, OREGON (Reuters) - Justin Gatlin set the stage for a world championship showdown with Usain Bolt when he won the 200m in a blazing 19.57sec at the United States trials in Oregon on Sunday.
Only four people, including world record holder Bolt, have run faster than the 33-year-old, whose previous best was 19.68.
"I wanted to come out and make a statement, and that's what I did," said the fast starting Gatlin. "I would say it's the most complete, technically 200m I ever ran. A lot of people were asking me what could I run if I ran through the finish line, so obviously I went out there and ran 19.5 so I hope I can do better than that."
Training partner Isiah Young was second in 19.93 with the 30-year-old Wallace Spearmon taking third in 20.10.
Gatlin, the year's fastest at the 100 and 200 sprints, plans to challenge Bolt at both distances in the August world championships in Beijing. They have not met since 2013 with Gatlin, who has served two doping bans, piling up a two-year unbeaten streak.
Olympic pole vault champion Jenn Suhr was equally dominant, soaring to the best performance of the year, 4.82m.
Olympic 10,000m silver medallist Galen Rupp, caught up in doping allegations involving his coach Alberto Salazar, made the US team in a second event, the 5,000m, after finishing third at the trials.
Salazar has been accused in a BBC programme and ProPublica story of giving Rupp the banned steroid testosterone as a teenager and encouraging athletes to misuse prescription drugs. He has denied all allegations but is under investigation by the US Anti-Doping Agency, a source told Reuters.