ROME (AP) — Another victory for Justin Gatlin — and perfect practice for his anticipated duel with Usain Bolt at the upcoming Rio Olympics.

Gatlin held off a late challenge from fellow American Ameer Webb to win the 100 meters in 9.93 seconds Thursday at the Golden Gala Pietro Mennea meet.

It was Gatlin's fifth 100 victory in Rome, breaking a tie for the meet record with Maurice Greene.

Webb crossed second in 9.94 and European record holder Jimmy Vicaut of France was third in 9.99.

"I felt Ameer out there. ... That's what I've been training for this season. Last year you saw in Beijing the presence of Usain and I lost my form," Gatlin said, referring to the 2015 world championships where Gatlin finished one hundredth of a second behind Bolt.

"We all have flaws in our race," Gatlin added. "For me, it's I'm not used to having someone next to me when I'm running. So to be able to do that tonight was an accomplishment within itself."

The performance of the night came from Almaz Ayana, who ran the second fastest 5,000 meters of all time, coming within a few of strides of breaking the world record.

Half a lap ahead of her competitors, Ayana crossed in 14:12.59 — just short of fellow Ethiopian Tirunesh Dibaba's eight-year-old world mark of 14:11.15. Mercy Cherono of Kenya crossed a distant second, more than 21 seconds behind.

Gatlin got off to a good start and had a comfortable lead before being challenged by both Vicaut in the next lane and then Webb on the outside.

Discounting his wind-aided 9.88 in Eugene, Oregon, last weekend, it was Gatlin's best performance of the season — one hundredth faster than the 9.94 he ran in both Shanghai and Beijing.

The 34-year-old Gatlin had praise for the 25-year-old Webb, whose 100 performance came little more than an hour after he won the 200 in 20.04.

"He's going to be a guy to watch out for, and for the audience to also watch, when it gets ready for the Olympic trials," Gatlin said.

Gatlin's preparation this season was slowed by an ankle injury.

"I'll say 97 (percent). It's healed. I don't feel the pain," Gatlin said. "But obviously when you're rehabbing you don't get the strength you need to get off the track. And you can see that toward the end of my race where I'm just running, running, running and not doing more explosive toward the end."

In the women's 100, Elaine Thompson of Jamaica used a late kick to win in 10.87 ahead of English Gardner of the United States in 10.92.

In the women's triple jump, Caterine Ibarguen of Colombia leaped 14.78 to extend her winning streak to 34 contests since taking silver at the 2012 Olympics. Olga Rypakova, the Kazakh who beat Ibarguen in London, finished second at 14.51.

"This year I will give anything to take the gold medal," Ibarguen said.

In the women's 800, Caster Semenya of South Africa beat a stellar field by a large margin to win in 1:56.64, matching her own season lead set in Rabat last month. Indoor world champion Francine Niyonsaba of Burundi finished second, nearly two seconds behind.

It was Semenya's third 800 win in this season's Diamond League.

"I need to be consistent to maintain this shape until the Olympics," Semenya said.

Wayde van Niekerk also coasted to victory in the 400, clocking 44.19. The South African is the first athlete to run the 100 under 10 seconds, the 200 under 20 seconds and the 400 under 44 seconds. Van Niekerk won at last year's worlds in 43.48.


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