• London Olympics 2012

Gatlin & Merritt claim London places

ESPN staff
June 25, 2012
Ashton Eaton broke the long-standing decathlon world record © Getty Images

Polarising athletes LaShawn Merritt and Justin Gatlin both confirmed their places at London 2012 on Sunday - as Ashton Eaton broke the world record in the decathlon.

Gatlin, who has twice been banned during his career due to drugs infringements, won the 100m in a personal best time of 9.80 seconds in Oregon - clinching a berth at this summer's Olympic Games.

The 2004 gold medallist - who ran 9.77s in 2006 but later had that time annulled - edged Tyson Gay in the race, although his compatriot is also guaranteed to be going to London 2012 after coming home second in 9.86s.

"The race was a blur. I just gutted it out," said Gatlin. "I guess I set a record today, so congrats to myself."

In the 400m, LaShawn Merritt won in a season-leading time of 44.12s to give himself the chance of defending the title he won in Beijing. In the interim, the 26-year-old has served a ban after failing three drugs tests in 2010 - something he put down to the use of a male enhancement cream.

"This won't be my first rodeo, so I'm confident," he told reporters after the race. "This is a birthday present to myself."

Meanwhile, in the decathlon there was a remarkable performance - as rising star Ashton Eaton broke the world record in the event after a devastating display.

The 24-year-old broke Roman Sebrle's 11-year record to mark himself as the man to beat in London, as defending Olympic champion Brian Clay was forced to pass the torch to his young compatriot.

"It's like living an entire lifetime in two days," Eaton said. "It doesn't mean that much to the rest of the world, but to me it's my whole world."

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