Kerley leads U.S. sweep of 100 meters at worlds

EUGENE, Ore. — Fred Kerley led the first American sweep of the 100 meters at the worlds in 31 years Saturday, barely edging teammates Marvin Bracy and Trayvon Bromell to stamp a red-white-and-blue exclamation point on the first championships ever held in the United States.

Kerley leaned at the line to finish in 9.86 seconds and beat both Bracy and Bromell by 0.02 seconds. The difference between second and third was 0.002.

It marked the first American sweep at worlds since Carl Lewis, Leroy Burrell and Dennis Mitchell went gold-silver-bronze at the 1991 championships in Tokyo.

“We said we were going to do it and we did it,” Kerley said in the on-track interview, moments after the crowd finished chanting “USA! USA! USA!”

This All-American burst of speed brought back memories of times when the U.S. dominated the track game in the same way Jamaica and Usain Bolt did for nearly a decade starting in 2008.

It is also certain to ramp up expectations for next weekend’s 4×100 relay, an event with which the U.S. has had notorious and long-running trouble.

Kerley, the 27-year-old Texan, came into Eugene as the favorite — the only sprinter to crack 9.8 seconds this year. His reward is a title in an event he didn’t start investing time in until the leadup to last year’s Olympics.

He finished second last year to Italian Marcell Jacobs, who came from out of nowhere to capture the gold in Tokyo.

But a glute muscle has been bothering the Italian this season, and when a “DNS” — did not start — showed up by his name in the semifinals earlier in the evening, the field began clearing. It opened up further when Canadian Olympic bronze medalist Andre De Grasse, diagnosed with COVID-19 just 2½ weeks ago, finished fifth in the same heat.

That left four Americans — defending world champion Christian Coleman was the other — in the eight-man final for only the second time (2015 was the other). They were all among the world’s top nine this season, with only sixth-ranked Akani Simbine of South Africa looming as a major threat.

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