Gatlin, Bolt into World Championship 100m semis

BEIJING - Controversial American sprinter Justin Gatlin underlined his status as 100m gold medal favourite as he produced the fastest time in the first round.

Gatlin, who has twice served doping suspensions, clocked 9.83 seconds in the sixth heat, albeit with the assistance of a 2.1m/s tailwind.

Reigning world and Olympic champion Usain Bolt won the seventh heat in 9.96 into the slightest headwind and grinned afterwards despite a slow start.

Bolt, beset by a pelvic injury for much of the season, has produced only two sub-10 second 100m performances all summer and looked to be working hard for the first 60 metres as he continues to search for the magic of old.

While Gatlin has been consistently running 9.8secs this summer, and arrived in Beijing on a 27-race unbeaten run stretching back two years, Bolt will go into Sunday's semi-finals and final hoping to hit a peak at exactly the right time.

Gatlin oozed the same confidence and easy form he has shown throughout the year, once again seemingly unaffected by the furore around his appearance here after those two drugs bans.

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