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Gatlin's Valiant Effort Falls Short in Electric Matchup at World
Championships

By Steve Ritchie / Special to the News Journal
August 11, 2013


Justin Gatlin

Moscow, Russia - Just before the start of the men's 100 meter final at the IAAF World Championships, the heat and humidity of Moscow relented briefly, and a heavy rain began to fall as the runners crouched in their blocks.

Justin Gatlin had to be hoping it was a sign of an equally dramatic shift in the world of world-class sprinting. Gatlin had beaten Usain Bolt in the 100 meters earlier this summer, but to beat him again in this setting would mean even more.

Unfortunately for Gatlin, there was a bolt of lightning - both literal and figurative - for him at the finish line.

Coming from behind midway through the race, Bolt caught Gatlin and pulled away by a stride at the tape, just as a real bolt of lightning lit up the Moscow sky. The Jamaican superstar finished in a time of 9.77, with Gatlin close behind in 9.85. Jamaica's Nesta Carter got the bronze in 9.95.

Gatlin and Bolt had the same reaction time coming out of the blocks, but Gatlin drove powerfully over the first 30 meters to put some distance between him and Bolt. It wasn't enough, though, as Bolt began to close the gap and pass Gatlin by 60 meters.

But Gatlin pushed Bolt to his limit in this race. There was no pointing or playful mugging going on here, just an all-out race to the tape. Afterwards, Bolt gave the former Woodham High School star a lot of credit for how he competes in the biggest meets.

"I appreciate (Gatlin) and how he competes and always gives it his best," Bolt said. "One thing my coach said is that Justin Gatlin always shows up on the big occasion. He is always one to watch . . . Just to be against great starters like Justin Gatlin and Nesta Carter helps me to focus on my start. I know that (Gatlin) is not going to crack under pressure."

For his part, Gatlin said he was happy with his race and there was no shame in losing to Bolt."I'm a competitor at heart and he (Bolt) is a showman but he's the best out there. It's always an honor to compete against him and he brings the best out in me."

Gatlin said he was struck by the sudden change in the weather before the race."I think we saw the lightening in the (warmup) tent. I actually thought they were going to postpone the race."

A reporter mentioned to Bolt that there was a photo of him crossing the line as a vertical bolt of lightning lit up the sky. "Somebody told me about that, "Bolt said. I need to get that picture right now. That's a pretty cool photo. A good laugh."

Bolt and Gatlin will both return in these championships. Bolt will run in the 200 meters, and both Bolt and Gatlin are expected to be on the 4 x 100 relay teams for Jamaica and the U.S., respectively.

 
 

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