‘Bolt was my inspiration during drug ban’ - Gatlin
Reigning 100m World Champion Justin Gatlin has credited recently retired double world record holder Usain Bolt as an inspiration to return to track and field after serving an extended period out of the sport due to a drug suspension.
The 35-year-old American was banned from the sport for eight years in 2006 after failing a positive test for the second time in his career. The sprinter saw the term reduced to four years after launching an appeal and returned to the track in 2010. During that time Bolt, a man he had beaten in the 200m final at the 2005 World Championships, had gone on to become the sport’s new standard bearer after winning two Olympic gold medals, three World Championships titles and two remarkable world records. Gatlin was watching.
“I respect him as an athlete. Actually, he has inspired me to come back and be the strongest person I can be on and off the track,” the American told The Post Game.
Facing several defeats at the hands of Bolt following his return to track and field, Gatlin did play the role of spoiler at the 2017 World Championships, defeating the Jamaican in the final individual race of his career. After crossing the American immediately paid tribute to the outgoing retiring champion.
“When I crossed the finish line that’s why you saw me take a knee and pay homage to him because he has pushed me to levels I thought I’d never get to. That’s why we always have respect for each other.”