DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Christian Coleman didn’t plan the gesture. He didn’t even realize he was performing it.
Right as he crossed the finish line, Coleman outstretched his fingers on both hands in a “V’’ formation — for victory.
A convincing one at that.
Coleman cruised to the 100-meter title at the U.S. championships Friday night in a final that Justin Gatlin elected to sit out.
The 23-year-old blasted out of the starting blocks and finished in 9.99 seconds. Michael Rodgers was second by thousandths of a second over Christopher Belcher. Both times flashed 10.12.
About that Coleman gesture.
“I’m (not) thinking when I come across,” Coleman explained.
About his race.
“It felt smooth. No complaints here,” said Coleman, who’s planning to run the 200. “I feel like I pretty much controlled it from the start.”
The 37-year-old Gatlin ran in the semifinal round, but his lane was empty for the final. He already had a guaranteed 100 spot for the world championships in Doha this fall, because he’s the defending champion.
Bummed not to see Gatlin?
“Not really. I just wanted to make the team,” Coleman said.
Two years ago in London, Gatlin edged Coleman in the 100 final.
Round 2 is coming up in Doha in late September. Their rivalry just might be a preview of things to come at the Tokyo Olympics in a year.
In the women’s 100, Teahna Daniels used a strong surge midway through the race to win in 11.20 seconds. English Gardner was second in 11.25 seconds and Morolake Akinosun third in 11.28.
Out of the University of Texas, Daniels just recently turned pro. She was fourth at the NCAA outdoor meet in June.
“It’s surreal. I can’t put into words how I felt at that moment,” Daniels said. It means so, so, so, so much.”
Allyson Felix showed her fitness is rapidly returning in advancing to the 400 final. The six-time Olympic gold medalist was nearly a second faster in her semifinal run than in a first-round performance that she described as rusty.
It was just Felix’s second race in 13 months and as a mom. Her goal is not to be in tip-top form now but next summer.
“It’s going to take some time,” the 33-year-old Felix said.
Asked what her expectations were for nationals, Felix didn’t shy away: “I’m a competitor — to win.”
Things to know from Day 2:
Last weekend, teenager Athing Mu won the 800 at the Pan American U20 Championships in Costa Rica.
Now, she’s in the final at nationals.
The 17-year-old from Trenton, New Jersey, finished third in her heat in a time of 2:02.47 to advance. Her parents emigrated from Sudan around 2000.
“I just go into the race remembering, ‘Whatever happens, I’m doing this for fun,’” Mu said.
Doha for worlds — now that would make a nice second honeymoon destination for triple jumper Will Claye and his wife, hurdler Queen Quedith Claye.
Will earned his way by placing second to Donald Scott in the triple jump. Queen moved a step closer with the third-fastest time in the first round of the 100 hurdles.
“All we need to do is get to Doha as a package and everything will handle itself when we get there,” Queen said.
Their engagement was certainly memorable.
Moments after earning a silver medal in the triple jump at the 2016 Rio Olympics, Will jumped into the stands, dropped to a knee and proposed to Queen. They were married on Oct. 13, 2018, and currently live in San Diego.
LEEPER OF FAITH
Paralympian sprinter Blake Leeper qualified for the 400 final by posting a personal-best time of 44.38 seconds. He said the IAAF hasn’t recognized his times for much of the season though, maintaining the height he is at with his blades disqualifies him against able-bodied runners. Leeper said he’s been running at the height the IAAF currently has issues with for years.
It’s unknown whether Leeper would be allowed to compete at worlds should he earn a spot. But he captivated the crowd.
“They could DQ the times,” said Leeper, who was born with both legs missing below the knee. “They can’t DQ the moment. That’s what it’s all about.”
Like Felix, 100 hurdler Nia Ali is returning to racing after having a baby. Ali and Canadian sprinter Andre De Grasse welcomed a girl 13 months ago.
“It’s a great thing to see Allyson even be curageous enough to come back out here knowing she’s not at her best after being so decorated,” Ali said. “That’s brilliant. Kudos to her.”
Ali advanced out of the first round.
Conor McCullough won the hammer throw. ... Devon Williams overcame cramps in his legs to capture the decathlon. ... Ryan Crouser took the shot put title over Joe Kovacs.