Justin Gatlin arrived in Zagreb!
The main sprint star of the 63rd Hanžeković Memorial will definitely be USA’s Justin Gatlin (born on 10 February 1982). The list of his successes is really impressive.
He burst on the scene at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, winning the 100m in 9.85, ahead of Francis Obikwelu and Maurice Greene. At the World Championships in Helsinki the following summer, he won in both the 100m (9.88) and 200m (20.04), which only Greene had managed in Seville in 1999 before him, and after him, Tyson Gay did it in Osaka in 2007 and Usain Bolt in Berlin in 2009 and Moscow in 2013.
Gatlin opened the season of 2006 with the world record over 100m – 9.77 in Doha – but that record was annulled later on, after a positive doping test, which also earned him a four-year suspension.
Gatlin tried American football in the meantime, but did not make the Tampa Bay Buccaneers NHL team. The coaches saw „just a runner“ in him. He realized that, too, so he prepared for the return to athletics.
He came back to track in 2010 and won the bronze medal in the 100m in 9.79 at the 2012 Olympic Games in London, in the only race in history, in which as many as three sprinters ran under 9.80.
At the Diamond League meeting in Rome in June 2013, he beat Bolt and arose as his main opponent at the World Championships in Moscow. It proved true in the 100m and 4x100m finals, in which Gatlin finished right behind the world record holder.
„For him to say to me ‘Hey, you’re the guy who pushes me to go even faster.’ I’m honoured in that. But I thought I had it for a second,“ Gatlin said in Moscow.
Interestingly, although under irregular conditions, Gatlin ran a race even faster than Bolt’s 9.58 from Berlin. On a Japanese TV show in November 2011, he ran 100m in 9.45 aided by the 25 metre-per-second wind produced by a wind machine and received 25,000 dollars for it.
He will not need a wind machine at this year’s Zagreb Meeting, as a really respectable field of sprinters will be pushing him to run under 10 seconds: Isiah Young (USA), Mike Rodgers (USA), Kemar Bailey-Cole (JAM), Jacques Harvey (JAM), Harry Aikines-Aryeetey (UK) and Jason Rogers (SKN).