Usain Bolt’s status as the world’s fastest man is not only under assault by Justin Gatlin this year – an American teenager is also proving to be a threat.
Bolt’s indifferent season so far – the Jamaican sprinter’s best time in the 100 meters is 10.12 seconds – was put into stark perspective when 19-year-old college student Trayvon Bromell ran 9.84s at the USATF Outdoor Championships in Oregon on Thursday.
He followed that up by finishing second in Friday’s final to become the first U.S. teen to qualify for the world championships in the men’s 100m.
Thursday’s effort in the heats equaled the second-fastest 100m effort of 2015, alongside Jamaican veteran Asafa Powell, and was just 0.1s slower than Gatlin’s leading mark of 9.74.
“I’m really surprised by my time because when I slowed it down, I didn’t think I was going to run that fast,” Bromell told the USATF website. “This is crazy. I wasn’t planning on running that fast in prelims.”
Bromell’s effort puts him fourth on the U.S. list of all-time fastest performers, behind Tyson Gay, Gatlin and Maurice Greene – and the 10th fastest in athletics history. Bolt still leads the way on the 9.58s he set at the 2009 world championships.
A second-year student at Baylor University, Bromell also became the first junior to run a sub-10s 100m.
Bromell’s time was the second-fastest of the qualifying heats behind 22-year-old Remontay McClain, who ran a wind-assisted 9.82s.
“It’s all about having a championship mindset,” added Bromell, who was unable to defend his NCAA outdoor title earlier this month, finishing second. “You have to understand that you can’t win them all. God has a plan for everybody.
“Maybe it wasn’t His plan for me to win NCAAs, but maybe it was for me to come out and make the world championship team. It all happens for a reason.”
On Friday, Bromell was quickest in the wind-affected semis with a time of 9.79s, but in the final he had to bow to the experience of 2007 world champion Tyson Gay.
The 32-year-old, back this season after a drug ban, triumphed in 9.87s while Bromell clocked 9.96 as he edged out Michael Rodgers, who also earned a berth at August’s world championships in China.
Former Olympic and world champion Gatlin, another sprinter back at the top following a drug ban, has already qualified. He won last season’s Diamond League title and comfortably leads the 2015 series. He will be competing in the 200m in Oregon this weekend.
Bromell is not the only U.S teenager breaking records.
Sixteen-year-old Candace Hill became the first high school girl to break the 11-second barrier in the 100m with a time of 10.98 at the Brooks PR Invitational last weekend.
Bolt, meanwhile, pulled out of this week’s Jamaican trials, but the six-time Olympic gold medalist is due to run at the Diamond League meeting in Paris a week on Saturday before competing at Lausanne five days later.
He has already qualified for Beijing, where he will defend his 100m and 200m titles.
In his absence, Powell won the nationbal title as he equaled his season’s best 9.84 on Friday.
In the women’s race, two-time world champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce posted the fastest time this year of 10.79, with Natasha Morrison second and double Olympic 200m champion Veronica Campbell-Brown third to also qualify.