New York: The lure of beating undisputed sprint champion Usain Bolt has become the driving force behind American Justin Gatlin’s training during the tough winter months.
The 30-year-old former Olympic champion is valiantly attempting to rebuild a career tainted by a four-year doping ban, and is using the quest to defeat the outstanding Bolt as his motivation.
He made the podium at the London Olympics this year, finishing third behind champion Bolt and Yohan Blake in the 100 metres.
“I want to beat Bolt. He’s a stellar athlete but I think I can step up to the plate,” a hopeful Gatlin said.
“He’s the incentive to train even more for this season, him and the year I had last year when I only got beat one or two times. I’ve got world champion blood in me. It’s not about times but about running to the line, being the first across it.”
Another showdown with the Jamaican pair of Bolt and Blake looms at the World Championships in Moscow next August.
Gatlin is already familiar with the taste of World Championship glory, having taken the double at the 2005 edition in Helsinki when Bolt was not yet on the international radar.
His 2012 season finished tamely as he fought off illness, and after taking some time off to spend with family, he is ready to take aim at Bolt again.
“I’ve got the Gatlin guns to throw at the Lightning Bolt and the Beast (Blake), and Tyson Gay,” Gatlin stressed.
His fall from grace through the doping scandal has not diminished his love for the sport. In fact, Gatlin said he is as motivated as ever to return to the pinnacle of athletics, despite the residual criticism stemming from the scandal.
“For me, running is an outer-body experience. It’s like this crazy rush of blood and you zap back into your body at the end of it,” he explained. “I want to compete until I can compete no more.”