Former Tennessee standout and 2004 U.S. Olympic 100m dash gold medalist Justin Gatlin highlighted another positive day for Big Orange products at the IAAF World Indoor Championships in Istanbul, Turkey, winning a world title in the 60-meter dash on Saturday.
Gatlin, a 12-time All-American and a six-time NCAA champion from 2001-02 for the Volunteers, sped to victory in a season-best 6.46 seconds to match the time he ran to strike gold at the 2003 World Indoor Championships. He finished well ahead of the 6.54 clocking today of silver medalist Nesta Carter of Jamaica.
"I felt great," Gatlin told USA Track & Field. "My first title in 2003 I ran the exact same time, so I think that I'm back. Everyone needs to stay tuned, because the USA is going to show you something.
"I knew I had to do what I had to do. I'm just thankful. I wanted to make sure I got out of the blocks, and once I put my head up all I saw was yellow and green. I just wanted to do anything that I could. I'm going to go home and take a breather and start working on the next 40 (meters)."
Former Vol Aries Merritt (2004-06) moved on to the semifinals in the 60m hurdles, navigating the obstacles in 7.66 to win heat four.
"It was very easy," Merritt said. "I just wanted to stay relaxed. I'm happy to get through.
"It was an easy round. I want to come here (Sunday) and execute my race. If I execute my race I am confident that I can get a medal."
Former Lady Vol Tianna Madison (2004-05) also advanced to the semifinals, doing so in the women's 60m dash. Her 7.24 readout was good for second in heat eight of the prelims.
In addition to semis and potentially finals for Madison and Merritt on Sunday, former Lady Vols Jackie Areson (2007-2011) and Erica Moore (2010) face finals in the 3000 meters and 800 meters, respectively.