In the world of international track, there's the Olympics, there's the World Championships, and then there's everything else. But among the "everything else," stakes don't come a lot higher than within the IAAF's globe-circling Diamond League series, and meets within the Diamond League don't come a lot bigger than Rome's "Golden Gala," held Thursday.
That's the long way of saying this: It's far from the end of Usain Bolt's world that he was stunningly beaten by American Justin Gatlin in Rome's 100-meter finals, but it's not the sort of result the track world won't raise its collective eyebrows over, either -- particularly with August's Moscow World Championships looming.
Here's the video, with Gatlin (in lane 6) officially timed at 9.94 and Bolt (in lane 4) at 9.95:
American Michael Rodgers placed fourth.
It was a mild surprise when Gatlin won the bronze at the London Olympics, and Thursday's race will further cement him as one of the world's very best sprinters -- another substantial step in the right direction after his four-year ban from the sport from 2006-2010 for a positive steroids test. Most of the world won't be happy to see a sprinter associated with doping challenging the immensely popular Bolt -- you can hear the British announcer in the above clip admit he's "not the biggest fan" of Gatlin -- but if the former Tennessee Volunteer continues his current upward trajectory, he could be the Jamaican's biggest threat in Moscow.
As for Bolt:
Fret not myself Bolt world or be worried. Thanks for all the support and believe me when I say #iwillbeback— Usain St. Leo Bolt (@usainbolt) June 6, 2013