(Reuters) - World champion Justin Gatlin and his team mates sped to the year’s fastest 4x100 metres relay on Saturday, clocking 38.08 seconds at the Tennessee Relays in Knoxville.
Indoor 60 metres world-record holder Christian Coleman, Gatlin, Ronnie Baker and Mike Rodgers combined to supplant the previous 2018 best of 38.13 seconds that England ran earlier in the day to win the Commonwealth Games in Australia.
Organisers had hoped the newly formed team would challenge the American record of 37.38 seconds set twice by U.S. national teams with Gatlin a member each time.
But windy conditions, the earliness of the season and the lack of training together hindered the effort.
“I thought we could have broke 38 (seconds) if we did not have that headwind,” Gatlin told Reuters. “We wanted to play it safe on that backstretch from second to third (runners) because of the wind.
“I think, working together more, I don’t see why we can’t break 38 and go 37 low,” he said.
That would approach the world record of 36.84 seconds set by Usain Bolt and his Jamaican team mates at the 2012 Olympics.
Gatlin had organised the team of the four top-ranked U.S. 100 metres sprinters for 2017 just to see how fast they could run.
Although they had practised only once, for 45 minutes on Friday, the effort made him and his relay mates ready for more.
“We want to take it worldwide,” Gatlin said. “Maybe some Diamond League meets if possible and run against national teams.”
Gatlin said it was time to bring a world or Olympic 4x100 relay title back to the United States.
American men have not won a world championship in the event since 2007 and the drought in the Olympics stretches more than a decade with the last title coming in 2000.
Reporting by Gene Cherry in Raleigh, North Carolina; Editing by Clare Fallon