World sprint champions Justin Gatlin and Christian Coleman will miss next week’s U.S. championships and as a result will not be eligible for track and field’s new premier event, the Athletics World Cup in London in July, officials tell Reuters.
The decisions, especially rising star Coleman’s, come at a time the World Cup, an eight-nation showdown, is seeking to bring new energy to the sport in a year when there is no world outdoor championship and Usain Bolt is no longer competing.
Managers for 100 meters winner Gatlin and Coleman, the world indoor 60m champion and record holder, both told Reuters their clients would not run in the American meeting, scheduled Thursday through Sunday in Des Moines, Iowa.
That makes them and any other athlete who misses the championships ineligible for the U.S. World Cup team, according to Duffy Mahoney, USA Track & Field’s chief of sport performance.
“It is quite simple,” Mahoney said in an email to Reuters. “The highest placing finisher in each event at the 2018 USATF Senior Championships – who elects to compete – will select themselves for a position on the U.S. Team.”
Gatlin’s manager, Renaldo Nehemiah, said “there was no real incentive” for the 36-year-old sprinter to run in Iowa since there would be no world championship and not having extra races would cut down on the sprinter’s wear and tear going into the 2019 world championships and 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.
Coleman manager Emanuel Hudson, in a text message, said, “Coleman is not at nationals.”
The world 100m silver medalist has been injured but is expected to return for the June 30 Paris Diamond League meeting.
Olympic 400m hurdles gold medalist Dalilah Muhammad also will not be at the championships, Hudson wrote.
“So according to what you sent (Mahoney’s statement), they wouldn’t be eligible for World Cup,” he added.
Despite their absence and perhaps others, “USATF looks forward to having the world’s best national track & field championship next week in Des Moines, and to fielding the top team for the World Cup,” spokesperson Jill Geer said.
The World Cup, scheduled for July 14-15, will bring together teams from the United States, Jamaica, China, France, Germany, Britain, South Africa and Poland.
Track events from 100 through 1,500 meters, plus hurdles races and 4×100 and 4×400 meter relays, will be contested along with eight field events.
Each nation will have one competitor per event.
Without Gatlin or Coleman, the World Cup likely will look to Britain’s Zharnel Hughes, the year’s fastest at 100m, or emerging talent from the U.S. and Jamaican championships for its new sprint king.
World indoor bronze medalist Ronnie Baker and new 200m sensation Noah Lyles are set for a 100m showdown at the American meeting with Michael Norman, the year’s top 400 meters runner, contesting the 200.
Teenager Sydney McLaughlin will be launching her professional career in the 400 meters hurdles, where she is 2018’s fastest.