Gatlin ran a 9.94 to beat Bolt in the final meters.

Usain Bolt Loses Close Finish To Justin Gatlin In Rome 100 [Video]

Usain Bolt went into the Rome 100 meters at the Golden Gala meet on Thursday as a heavy favorite, but he walked away a close second to Justin Gatlin of the United States. Gatlin edged out a victory over Bolt by one-hundreth (0.001) of a second.

This is the Jamaican sprinters first major loss since a false-start disqualification at the 2011 world championships in South Korea while Gatlin is just getting started in 2013. The 31-year-old American sprinter has won each of his first five 100-meter starts this year, with a tight win over the “world’s fastest man” added to his resume to top off his streak.

Bolt had no plans of losing the race on Thursday, and he nearly capped off another win before being edged out in the final meters.

“That was ridiculous – a perfect start and then I just cropped off,” the 26-year-old Jamaican said after the race, via the Associated Press. ”I think it was this perfect start that threw my game off. I have to do more strength work, I guess. I think it needs just some time to get it all back together. At the end it was just not me.”

Usain Bolt has already faced setbacks this season as he missed out at the Jamaican International Invitational in early May due to a hamstring strain. He ran a respectable time on Thursday, but Gatlin’s 9.94 finish was just enough to beat out the record-breaking sprinter.

“At least I got under 10 seconds,” Bolt added. ”My legs did not feel the energy. At 50 meters I had some problems, but the rest of the race was not bad.”

No matter what the problem was for “Lightning Bolt,” it wasn’t enough to beat America’s top sprinter at the Golden Gala. The performance by Justin Gatlin wasn’t expected to beat out Bolt by any means, but the native of Brooklyn, New York has a history of great finishes in the 100 meters.

He won gold in the event at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece and again in 2005 in the world championships in Helsinki, Finland. His success in the 100 meters has made him one of the premier sprinters in all of the US, though he finished with a disappointing bronze in 2012 at the London Olympics, which was won by none other than Bolt himself.

Now Gatlin is back on top, or at least will hold bragging rights until the two sprinters meet again. Do you think Usain Bolt can redeem himself after the upset on Thursday as he moves on to run the 200 meters in Oslo, Norway next week?

[Image via Nick Webb]