By Terry Daley
ROME (Reuters) - Usain Bolt's defeat by Justin Gatlin in the 100 meters at the Rome Diamond League meeting on Thursday is unlikely to cause the Olympic champion too much concern ahead of August's world championships.
American Gatlin, bronze medalist at the London Games after a four-year doping ban, ran 9.94 seconds to edge Bolt by 0.01 in a race that showed the Jamaican has yet to fully recover from the hamstring injury that dogged him earlier in the season.
Bolt's previous defeat over the distance was at last year's Jamaican championships when fans and media were stunned as he was beaten by Yohan Blake only for the world record holder to scorch to the second-fastest time on record of 9.63 in the Olympic final a few weeks later.
The 26-year-old Bolt got a good start in Rome but Gatlin, who also won in Doha and Eugene this season, had moved ahead by halfway and his rival never looked like making up the ground.
"That was ridiculous - a perfect start and then I just cropped off. I think it was the perfect start that threw my game off," six-times Olympic gold medalist Bolt told reporters.
"At the end it just wasn't me - at least I got under 10 seconds," he added, referring to his only other race over 100 meters this season when he ran 10.09 in the Cayman islands last month.
"For me it is just going through the season, putting things together for the world championships (in Moscow). The season is still very early."
Women's Olympic 200 meters champion Allyson Felix also suffered a surprise defeat when she was left trailing down the home straight by Ivory Coast's Murielle Ahoure who won in a national record of 22.36.
Felix, easily identifiable in bright pink shin socks and matching spikes, ran a poor bend and lacked her usual fluidity as she raced to the line in 22.64.
"I am very excited after my victory and the national record is a big bonus for me," Ahoure said.
"I was not worried about having strong opponents next to me, it will be the same at the world championships, where I hope my training will pay off. That is what we are working for."
A number of world leading times for the year were recorded on the track, including Amantle Montsho who beat her own 400 meters best for 2013 by running 49.87.
"I am very happy with my time today. I wasn't thinking of the world championships when I ran," Montsho said before rushing off to fly back to Botswana.
Ethiopia's Yenew Alamirew smashed the year's best 5,000 meters time, set by Kenyan Edwin Soi at the Diamond League meet in Eugene last week, by almost 10 seconds when he ran 12:54.95.
Soi, who beat Olympic champion Mo Farah when winning in Eugene, could only manage fifth in 13:02.54 this time.
Mohammed Aman showed he was likely to be Olympic champion David Rudisha's main challenger over 800 meters this year with a world leading 1:43.61.
"I expected to run a good time because my previous races and training were good," said the Ethiopian teenager, who is the only man to beat Rudisha in the last two years.
"Who am I afraid of? Who could beat me? We will see..." he added.
Croatia's Olympic champion Sandra Perkovic overcame illness to comfortably win the women's discus with 68.25 meters, nearly four meters more than nearest rival Cuba's Yarelis Barrios.
(Editing by Alison Wildey)