Three of the four fastest men in the world this year in the 100-meter lined up at the Diamond League stop in Monaco on Friday, and delivered on what promised to be a thriller.
Missing only world leader Christian Coleman, the showdown included Nigeria’s Divine Oduduru, making his professional debut, and top American sprinters in Youth Olympic gold medalist Noah Lyles and Olympic gold medalist Justin Gatlin.
The race came down to reigning world champion Gatlin and reigning national champion Lyles, racing head-to-head for the first time ever, with Gatlin winning in a photo finish by one hundredth of a second.
Gatlin had a time of 9.91, followed by Lyles in 9.92, with Michael Rogers making it an American sweep, finishing in third with a time of 10.01. The 37-year-old Gatlin finished second late last month at the Prefontaine Classic as Coleman lowered his world-leading time to 9.81 seconds.
It was Gatlin's third-straight sub-10-second 100-meter race.
The big performances by U.S. athletes didn’t end there.
Sydney McLaughlin, the youngest U.S. track and field athlete at the Olympic Games Rio 2016, set a new world-leading time in the women’s 400-meter hurdles, clocking in at 53.32 seconds. That lowered the mark of 53.61 set by defending Olympic gold medalist Dalilah Muhammad back in May.
McLaughlin made her Diamond League debut a month ago and won the 400-meter hurdles then as well. She used a late burst of speed to blow by 2017 world champion Kori Carter, Shamier Little and Muhammad to claim the victory in a who’s who field of athletes.
On Friday, she was the only woman in the field to run sub-54 seconds, and her win was convincing. Teammate and Olympic bronze medalist Ashley Spencer was the next-closest runner, finishing more than a second behind McLaughlin in 54.46 seconds.
The 19-year-old from Dunellen, New Jersey, hasn’t lost a 400-meter hurdles race in more than two years.
It was a good day for U.S. women in the hurdles overall.
World record holder Keni Harrison won the women’s 100-meter hurdles in a new season’s best of 12.43 seconds and Christina Clemons was third with a time of 12.62 seconds.
In the men’s triple jump, two-time Olympic gold medalist Christian Taylor took first with a new meet record and season’s-best mark of 17.82 meters, followed by teammate and Olympic medalist Will Claye in second place with a finish of 17.75.
Nathan Strother took third in the men’s 400.