- Associated Press - Sunday, February 18, 2018

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - Christian Coleman broke the world indoor record in the 60 meters in 6.34 seconds Sunday to win his first U.S. title in the final event of the USA Track & Field Indoor National Championships.

Coleman had run a world-best a month ago at the Clemson Invitational, but the mark was not recognized because electronic blocks were not used.

This time there was no doubt when he put on an extra burst about midway through the run, pulling away from former champion Ronnie Baker, who finished with a personal best of 6.40.

“I was just trying to come out with the win,” Coleman said. “I knew it would take something special with a great group of guys in the field and so I was just running to win. The world record was just icing on the cake really.”

Despite the record, he said there’s room for improvement.

“My start was decent but every time I feel like I got a lot of work to do,” Coleman said. “And so, when I transitioned and I stood up, I felt as good as I have ever felt. I kept running and saw that tape and got that line. It was a world record and it was pretty special. A pretty special race.”

When the time was posted, Coleman celebrated, raising his arms and bouncing back down the track.

“I just love this sport and it’s so competitive,” he said. “Either you’ve got it or you don’t on this day. And I love racing in the big races when everybody is watching. I just flourish in those moments. It’s not really my personality but when the lights are on, it just comes out.”

Sharika Nelvis set the crowd buzzing with an American record in the 60 hurdles at 7.70.

“I feel great,” she said before getting a hug from a fellow competitor. “It’s been a long road. I finally got my break and I’m happy. I’m never about numbers, I’m about winning. You win, it gets you on the team. I don’t focus on numbers, I focus on winning my race.”

Nelvis had to come from behind to win it, surging over the final hurdle to kick it to the finish.

“The thing is, I’m always backing off coming off the last hurdles so I just say, ‘You better run your ass off,’” she said. “I came off that hurdle and I just took off.”

For Nelvis, Coleman and most other winners and runners-up, at stake was a spot on the U.S. team that will compete in the world championships March 1-4 in Birmingham, England.

Among those who will make the trip, Vashti Cunningham won her third straight high jump, clearing 6 feet, 5 1/2-inches, then received her championship medal from father Randall Cunningham, the former NFL quarterback.

“That was a good moment with my dad,” she said. “I’ve never really accepted an award from him or anything like that since I was a little kid. It felt good to have him there with me.”

In other performances of note, Shelby Houlihan duplicated her feat of last season by sweeping the two distance races, this year winning the 3,000 and 1,500, and Paul Chelimo did the same on the men’s side, becoming just the second man to do so.

And pole vaulter Katie Nageotte surprised the field as well as herself by pushing her personal best up four heights to win her first national championship.

“It’s surreal,” she said. “I’m going to cry a lot later.”

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

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