Fri, September 20, 2013

Gatlin guns back to podium

By ROB LONGLEY, QMI Agency


American Justin Gatlin competes in the men's 100m final at the athletics event during the London 2012 Olympic Games on August 5, 2012 in London. AFP PHOTO / OLIVIER MORIN

LONDON - He has been an Olympic champion and a disgraced drug cheat, a controversial sprinter in a sport that has had plenty.

But now American Justin Gatlin is an Olympic medallist again, the bronze he earned Sunday night a redemptive tale for the man who won gold eight years ago in Athens.

“I’ve had a lot of ups and downs and it just feels good to be back,” said Gatlin, whose 9.79 clocking was faster than he’s ever run and just .01 in front of hard-luck compatriot, Tyson Gay. “To come back here with competition like Bolt and Blake, put on a show and be a part of history, it means a lot to me.”

Gatlin, who has twice served suspensions for doping violations, knew he’d have his hands full in upsetting the Jamaican pair, but he came in focussed and ready to challenge. The 30-year-old missed four years of competition while suspended, had the fastest semi-final time on Sunday (9.82) but couldn’t hold off Bolt and Blake in the last 20 metres.

“I went out there to challenge the odds, the legacy of Usain Bolt,” said Gatlin, who wrapped himself in an American flag after the race. “I was going to be fearless. I went out there to run my heart out. I went out there to do what I had to do.

“I’ve been at the top of the podium before. Watching Bolt and watching Blake and what they’ve done ahs givem me inspiration to work harder, run faster and push myself to be a better runner. I’m so glad to have this moment.”