2018 Rome DL Diary: Baker battles Coleman, Baker takes second straight win

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The 100 meters is won by running from point A to point B faster than anyone else in the field. The mechanics of the 100 meters take years to perfect. Some athletes reach their limits of speed in their late twenties, some in their late to mid thirties. Efficiency is key. Power is key. Competitiveness is key. Focus is key.

The great sprinter Maurice Greene once sent me a note regarding the 100 meters: "We never run a perfect race. We are always trying to improve something small in the 100 meters." Those small imperfections are the obsession for sprinters.

Baker_RonniePC1-Rome18.jpgRonnie Baker, Rome DL presser, photo by PhotoRun.net

Fans love the 100 meters. It is is simple, or, so it seems. The mastery of the start can take many years, with some never perfecting it. The race can be won many ways, as Reece Prescod showed in Shanghai. It can also be won the old fashioned way, as Baker, Coleman and Prescod showed in Eugene. Line up and run like hell to the finish.

It is all in the details. Tiny improvements make the difference. In a race where hundredths of a second determine success or failure. That is why most sprinters admit that they need a coach. Maurice Greene, Sydney 2000 gold medalist reminded me last that few sprinters run a perfect race. There is always room for improvement.

Coleman_ChristianPC1-Rome18.jpgChristian Coleman, Rome DL Presser, photo by Photorun.net

We suspected that in 2018, we might be in for a real treat. Reece Prescod surprised many with his win in Shanghai. And then, Ronnie Baker battled Christian Coleman in Eugene, and finally took control past 80 meters, to win in a wind aided 9.74 (plus 2.4 mps wind reading), to Christian Coleman's 9.84 and Reece Prescod's 9.88.

And then, today there was Rome's Golden Gala 100 meters. The race lived up to the hype, and added some exciting surprises.

And it was, great! An epic battle and an epic race.

The battle for the 100 meters in 2018 is on!

The field for the 100 meters in Rome was well orchestrated. From the start, Ronnie Baker and Christian Coleman went at it. Baker and Coleman were together until 70 meters, and, like Eugene, Ronnie Baker began to pull away from Coleman right after 70 meters, and went on to win in 9.93, a legal time, and equalled the WL and scored a PB. This effort, for Coleman had be huge, and he began to all back, finishing in fourth, running 10.06. To the left of Coleman was France's Jimmy Vicaut, who was executing his race plan quite well. The European record holder at 100 meters, Vicaut moved into second and ran 10.02. The big surprise was in third. Italian Filippo Tortu, to the absolute delight of the Italian crowd ran 10.04, coming quite close to the NR of the late Pietro Mennea, the namesake of the meet, and the man with one of the most stunning curve runs in both the 200 meters and the relays.

Ronnie Baker and Christian Coleman will be an exciting rivalry over the season. It is obvious that Coleman is racing into fitness, but that takes nothing away from Ronnie Baker, who is building his confidence with his fine sprinting. With two fine victories in a row, the Diamond League season is off to a great start in the men's 100 meters.

In the mixed zone, Ronnie Baker was all smiles. He told the press: "Today was definitely a great confidence booster - to have the last two wins under my belt is great but I know I need to keep working hard. It was my first victory lap and I need to work on doing it faster.The things I'm doing in practice are going well and they show there is more to come. Every race is anybody's race, it's never a definite between myself and Christian. I was third here last year so to win is super exciting, and to run a PR is amazing for me."

And we had to include the quote from Filippo Tortu, the young Italian on the fine race, and also meeting the Pope: "My start was quite well. I am really satisfied. In Savona I did a 10.03 at this very fast track. So this 10.04 means a lot. I will only be able to tell you when I can run sub 10 at the moment I achieve it. I do not know now. Today was a great and big day. We did a noteable race. Meeting the Pope was an experience for me that was more important than any race. We are in the European game, too."

Tortu is a player now in the European sprint wars. With the likes of Jimmy Vicaut, a returning to form Christophe Lemaitre and a wonderfully fit Reece Prescod, the European Championships will be quite exciting over 100 meters. Ronnie Baker and Christian Coleman should build up over the season into a very exciting rivalry, just what the sport needs. And in Filippo Tortu, Italy has a fine sprinter, once again. In sports mad Italy, Tortu wil be a rock star.

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