Lavillenie, Gatlin sparkle in Oregon victories


Renaud Lavillenie of France competes in the men's pole vault event during the IAAF European Indoor Championships in Prague in this file photo taken on March 7, 2015. REUTERS/David W Cerny

(Reuters) - Pole vault world record holder Renaud Lavillenie cleared an impressive 6.05 metres and Justin Gatlin added the year's fastest 200 to his resume at the Prefontaine Classic Diamond League meeting on Saturday.

Only Sergei Bubka has vaulted higher outdoors than Lavillenie did, but the Frenchman, whose world record of 6.16m came indoors, said the outdoor ranking mattered little.

"What I did with 6.16 indoors is much better," the Olympic champion said.

He tried three times unsuccessfully at 6.16 but promised the height would come.

"I did it indoor so I can do it outdoor," said Lavillenie. "It is just a question of time."

Gatlin equalled his lifetime best over 200 with his run of 19.68 seconds. The 33-year-old had clocked the year's fastest 100, a lifetime best 9.74 seconds, 15 days earlier in Doha.

"A lot of people think it was a gift and a curse," Gatlin said of a four-year doping ban he served between 2006 and 2010.

"I think it gave me a little more shelf life to come back. But it also gave me a little more push to come back and prove I am a great runner."

Eight other leading performances of the year came on the warm, sunny Saturday afternoon.

Ethiopian indoor world record holder Genzebe Dibaba ran the fifth fastest women's 5,000m ever (14:19.76) while London Olympic 400 gold medallist Kirani James also looked sharp, clocking an eye-catching and world leading 43.95 seconds.

Double Olympic champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce of Jamaica won a high quality women's 100 in 10.81 seconds, the best time of 2015. World silver medallist Murielle Ahoure of Ivory Coast was second in the same time.

Qatari world indoor high jump winner Mutaz Essa Barshim (2.41m), Djibouti miler Ayanleh Souleiman (3:51.10), Kenyan Olympic and world steeplechase champion Ezekiel Kemboi (8:01.71) and French high hurdler Pascal Martinot-Lagarde (13.06 seconds) also set the year's best marks.

Former world champion Tyson Gay drew a warm round of applause as he opened his season with a winning run of 9.88 seconds in the men's 100.

Allyson Felix, the Olympic 200 gold medallist, stepped up to the 400 and defeated London Games winner Sanya Richards-Ross.

Felix won in 50.05 seconds with Richards-Ross second in 50.29.

(Reporting by Gene Cherry; Editing by Peter Rutherford)

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