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Gatlin, Coleman teaming up to pursue American record at Tennessee Relays

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) - A pair of former Tennessee sprinters are going after a new American record at Tom Black Track on Saturday.

Volunteer track legends Justin Gatlin and Christian Coleman will team up with Mike Rodgers and Ronnie Baker in an attempt to break the 4x100-meter relay American record in a headline race during the 51st running of the Tennessee Relays.

The American record is currently 37.38 seconds set twice with Gatlin on both teams and Rodgers on one. Team USA first set the record in 2012 in London and matched it in 2015 at Nassau.

The potential record-breaking race will begin at 2:10 p.m.

Gatlin, a five-time Olympic medalist, won six NCAA championships for the Vols and led the team to the 2001 outdoor and 2002 indoor NCAA team titles.

"This is one my homes," Gatlin said. This is where I feel like I really started. I've had six NCAA championships here. Coach Beth Sullivan and the coaching staff, Coach Hall and all of them have been so good to me about coming back and rerooting myself here at University of Tennessee and obviously the amazing things that Christian Coleman has done here of recent, it was kind of like a a no-brainer for me to be able to bring it back home.

Coleman, 22, was eight years old when Gatlin won a gold medal at the 2004 summer games in Athens. He won all four NCAA sprint titles for the Vols in 2017, set the indoor 60m world record (6.34 seconds) and won the IAAF world indoor title in the event earlier this year. 

"It was a win-win for everybody," Coleman said. "I was on board, especially when we get a chance to run here in front of our home crowd at a place where I really became the person I am today."

Rodgers competed at Lindenwood University and Oklahoma Baptist University where he won NAIA national championships from 2005-07. The 32-year-old is a five-time USATF national champion. His top legal 100m time is 9.85 seconds. 

Baker was a two-time NCAA 60m indoor champion for TCU in 2015 and 2016. The 24-year-old has been running professionally the last two years, winning the USATF 60m title last year and coming in second earlier this year to Coleman in a career-best time of 6.40. His best non-wind aided 100m outdoor time is 9.98 seconds.  

Admission is free to all sessions of the Tennessee Relays.

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