Tokyo Olympics on the agenda for revitalised winner

Justin Gatlin bowing down in respect to Usain Bolt, after his upset 100m win.
Justin Gatlin bowing down in respect to Usain Bolt, after his upset 100m win.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

LONDON • Justin Gatlin indicated that he could carry on for another three years - until the 2020 Olympics - after winning the world 100m gold on Saturday.

In ruining Usain Bolt's farewell party, the controversial American delivered a title for his son Jace. And the seven-year-old may yet get his way again.

"One millisecond when I crossed the line I was like, 'I'm retiring'," Gatlin said after winning a second world title in 12 years.

"But my son wants me to go to Tokyo so I will take it year by year and race by race. I will see where it takes me."

Gatlin, the oldest man to win a running event other than the marathon at the World Athletics Championships, will be 38 during the Tokyo Games.

But he constantly has to defend himself against questions of whether he should still be competing.

The 35-year-old, who won the world title in 2005, a year after winning Olympic gold at the Athens Games, was twice banned for drug offences.

But he insisted that he has done his time in serving a four-year ban (2006-2010) for doping.

He was roundly booed at the London Stadium when it was announced he had won in 9.92 seconds, with Bolt (9.95sec) in third.

While Gatlin raised a finger to his lips in defiance of their jeering, the crowd then chanted Bolt's name.

However, Gatlin insisted he was "no bad boy" and said he should be treated like anyone who is given a second chance by society.

"I'm just a runner," he said. "I'm back in the sport. I've done my time and I've come back.

"I've done community service, I've talked to kids, I've actually inspired kids to walk the right path.

"That's all I can do. Society does that for people who make mistakes. That's why I'm still back in the sport, still running and believe in myself."

Bolt also defended Gatlin's right to compete.

"He's done his time and if he's here, it means it's okay," the Jamaican said. "I always respect him as a competitor. He's one of the best competitors I've ever competed against."

Gatlin knelt in front of Bolt after the final, before the rivals embraced.

"Usain said, 'Congratulations, you deserve it.' And that's from the man himself," Gatlin revealed.

"He knows how hard I work. Tonight was all about the W (win) and I managed to sneak it."

THE GUARDIAN, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 07, 2017, with the headline 'Tokyo Olympics on the agenda for revitalised winner'. Print Edition | Subscribe