ROME (AP) — Tyson Gay gave notice to world record-holder Usain Bolt by running the fastest 100 meters of the year in 9.77 seconds at the Golden Gala on Friday.

Gay swept pass previous record-holder Asafa Powell 40 meters from the finish in a time that would have been good enough to equal the world record less than two years ago.

Powell finished second in 9.88, and fellow Jamaican Yohan Blake was third with 9.96.

“I feel that I improved on the previous races,” Gay said. “Today the race was better executed and my shape is improving.

“I was working really hard for this, but I’m still training and I feel good.”

Gay, who’s preparing to defend his 100 and 200 titles at the world championships in Berlin, expected to be a favorite at the Beijing Olympics before a hamstring strain at the trials ended that hope. Bolt won both gold medals in world record times.

Bolt didn’t race in Rome, but recorded an impressive 200 in the rain on Tuesday at Lausanne, Switzerland, clocking 19.59 seconds.

In the women’s 100, Jamaican Kerron Stewart was still in contention for a share in the $1 million jackpot after three legs of the six-leg Golden League.

The Olympic silver medallist won in 10.75 seconds ahead of Olympic champion and countrywoman Shelly-Ann Fraser, who crossed in 10.91. The Bahamas’ Chandra Sturrup was third in a season-best 10.99 seconds.

Sanya Richards won her third Golden League meet in the 400, adding to victories in Berlin and Oslo. The American took the lead by the first bend and increased it down the back straight. She conserved her energy on the final bend before accelerating to win in 49.46 seconds, breaking Marita Koch’s record of 36 races under 50 seconds.

“Today was a really good run, the field is getting tougher and tougher, but we missed Christine Ohuruogu (Olympic and world champion) today,” Richards said.

“I was hoping to go faster than 49.2, but I will take 49.4. I have one more race in Paris, then I want to go back (to the United States) and get some hard training in (for worlds).”

Jamaica’s Sherika Williams was second in 50.31 seconds, while Ami Mbake Thiam from Senegal ran a season-best 50.71 for third.

Olympic champion Dayton Robles continued his buildup to the worlds in August with a win in the 110-meter hurdles in 13.17 seconds. Also impressive for the U.S. was long jump winner Dwight Phillips and 400 hurdles champion Kerron Clement.

Kenenisa Bikele kept up his quest to take a share of the golden jackpot when he won the 5,000 meters in 12:56.33.

The Olympic champion and world record-holder bided his time until the final lap, when he led a group of six on a breakaway. Leonard Komon of Kenya stayed close but Bikele gradually extended his lead until he entered the home straight with a comfortable gap.

“It was a strong race, but it was not easier than Berlin and Oslo,” Bikele said. “I feel that my shape is improving and I am now in good form. … In Berlin I will run the 10,000 meters and maybe I might race the 5,000 meters.”

The fourth athlete still with a chance of taking a jackpot share was Elena Isinbaeva, who won the pole vault in the venue where she broke the world record a year ago.

Isinbaeva began competing at a height of 4.75 meters, which none of her competitors were able to clear. She then vaulted over 4.85 before failing to clear 4.95.

Fellow Russians Yuli Golubchikova and Svetlana Feofanova were second and third.

Finland’s Tero Pitkamaki was knocked out of the jackpot competition after finishing second to Olympic javelin champion Andrea Thorkildsen, as he did a year ago in Beijing. Norway’s Thorkildsen managed 87.46 meters, and Pitkamaki was almost four meters behind at 83.68.

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