‘Gatlin kept me motivated’ – Bolt hails fierce American rival for always ‘keeping him on his toes’

'Gatlin kept me motivated' - Bolt hails fierce American rival for always 'keeping him on his toes'
Written by Publishing Team

Jamaican athletics icon Usain Bolt praised American sprinter Justin Gatlin for keeping him sharp throughout his career.

Bolt, who remains the world record holder in the 100 and 200 meters, retired from the sport in 2017. His rivalry with the American, although statistically, at times a little one-sided, was one of the most enduring and, at times, the fiercest in the sport of track and field, especially when he faced the starter in major matches.

On the biggest stage, it was Gatlin who triumphed in the first two meetings. Bolt failed to make it through the first round of the 2004 Olympics and it was Gatlin who won the 200m title, adding to the 100m crown, which had been won earlier.

A year later, Gatlin left the Jamaican far behind in the 200m final to win the sprint doubles at the 2005 World Championships in Helsinki. The two did not face each other at the 2007 World Championships, as Gatlin was banned from sport for four years after testing positive for a banned substance in 2006. On that occasion, Bolt finished second behind fellow American Tyson Gay.

Starting in 2008, however, it was Bolt who became the premier force in the world sprint and apart from the rare coup d & rsquo; Osaka 2011, where he made a false start in the 100m, while he failed hadn’t been defeated in big games for almost 9 years. Gatlin returned to the sport in 2010, but found it impossible to get the better of the Jamaican. He was eliminated in the semifinals of the 2011 World Championships, third at the 2012 Olympics, second at the 2013 World Championships. Gatlin was again second to Bolt in the 100m and 200m at the 2015 World Championships and won silver again at the Rio Olympics in 2016.

The American however managed to turn the tide on Bolt at the 2017 World Championships where he won gold, with the Jamaican finishing third in the final race before retiring.

“Justin Gatlin was very important in keeping me motivated because he kept me on my toes, he made me work,” Bolt explained during Puma’s Only See Great campaign.

“He let me know that every season he will be there, if I want to be the best I have to be ready and be ready to beat him,” he added.

Overall, the Jamaican leads the duel between the athletes with a 9-2 advantage, but he admits that with Gatlin and others around him he always had to look over his shoulder.

“The rivalries were strong and for me Tyson and Justin and Asafa and Blake they really pushed me throughout my career to stay on top of my game at all times to be the best of myself.”


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