Justin Gatlin Interview, May 13, 2015, photo by Larry Eder
This is a short piece on our group interview with Justin Gatlin. The entire interview will be posted in audio format on RunBlogRun this weekend. Justin Gatlin is racing the 100 meters at the Doha DL on Friday, May 15, 2015.
Justin Gatlin came to Doha to race the 100 meters on Friday night, May 15, 2015.
He also came to speak to the media. And speak he did. For almost thirty minutes, Justin answered questions thoughtfully, and looked back at the journalist, getting eye contact, and responded.
Okay, let’s get the drug junk out of the way. I am not real fond of calling athletes who tested positive drug cheats. In the US, if someone serves their time, then, we try and give them a second chance. Justin Gatlin tested positive first due to screw ups by his University on reporting his Attention Deficit medication. His second positive was for steroids and he served his time.
Being out of the sport for four years ends careers for most. That Gatlin came back meant that he has trained hard and is racing well because of innate talent. Is there a residual effect on his use of steroids? I am not sure. But, the IAAF and WADA are letting him compete, and he is being tested robustly, so, time to get on with it.
Justin is a likeable guy. He also seems to have been through some media training since I last interviewed him.
” The relay medal in Nassua was special to me. It was the first relay medal that I have ever won in my career.” noted Justin. He was serious. And the media got it. Gatlin was not pretending.
” Last year, I was not expecting to win all of those races. It just happened. This year is about making a statement. I want to run fast…I want to run an American record. I think I can break that record. ” was how Justin Gatlin spoke of this upcoming season.
Justin raced here in 2006. On May 12, 2006, Justin Gatlin ran 9.7666. First reported as a WR of 9.76, but the IAAF noted on May 16, 2006 that Justin Gatlins’ time was an equaling of the WR of 9.77, per their rule of rounding times up. In July 2006, during the weekend of the London DL, we found out that a media organization was reporting that Justin Gatlin had tested positive.
Gatlin’s original ban was to be eight years-a death sentence. His ban was cut to four years, because he agreed to provide evidence to WADA and USADA on former coach, Trevor Graham.
After four years, Gatlin came back. The controversy follows him wherever he goes. And, unfortunately for him, it always will.
In 2014, Justin Gatlin was the top ranked 100 meter runner in the world. He was also tops at 200 meters. Fifteen straight races Gatlin won. The “streak” is now a bona fide streak.
So, for the most part, Justin Gatlin keeps his head down and runs. But today, he spoke and he spoke eloquently and thoughtfully.
Many would have given up. But, one could see when Gatlin first began to race that he had something to prove.
In 2012, Justin Gatlin took the bronze in the 100 meters, becoming the fastest man over the age of 30, with his 9.80.
In 2014, Justin Gatlin won 15 races straight, with a fine 19.68 for the 200 meters in Monaco in July being of of the highlights. He looked a bit ragged around the turn, but came off the turn, flying away from the competition.
When I asked him his recollections of the 200 meters in Monaco, Justin looked at me, straight in the eyes, and said, ” Scared.” Justin Gatlin had been scared in that race, and it motivated him to run well.
When I asked him about the best part of the race he smiled and said, ” Well some used to say it was my finish, then, it was my start, so I will say now, it is my middle race.” He laughed as the assembled media did as well.
When I asked how he had improved his start, ” I worked on my technique and spend much time practicing it. ” Justin made it clear that his fast start is from hard work and lots of hours on the track.
Justin Gatlin spends about three and one half hours on the track. He noted that Coach Dennis Mitchell is no shrinking violet. ” Coach demands concentration. There have been days when Coach sent us all home from workouts.”
Justin Gatlin wants to run fast this year, over both the 100 meters and 200 meters. He will be racing in Doha, Beijing, Pre and the US Nationals. At the US Nationals and Pre, Justin will race over 200 meters.
You can sense that Justin wants to do something special over 200 meters. ” I understand now why so many 100 meter runners like the 200 meters.” noted Gatlin.
” I respect Usain Bolt. He has a hard work ethic. I like him, I just do not speak to him much. When you are competitive with another sprinter, you do not spend much time saying anything about them.” was how Justin Gatlin portrayed his relationship with Usain Bolt.
“As a track fan, I want to see Usain and I race this season before Beijing. I would love to race over 200 meters in Paris, but there is lots of red tape when Usain and I race. Hopefully, some smart young meet director can find a sponsor and we can run the 100 meters down the strip in Las Vegas!” was how Justin jokingly noted the rivalry between Bolt and himself.
Obviously, they will meet in Beijing over the 100 meters and 200 meters. Due to his win in the Diamond League in 2014, Justin has a bye into the World Champs 100 meters. He will run the 200 meters in Eugene to make the team for Beijing.
Of course, Justin was asked if he would run a 300 meters, a race that Usain Bolt has raced a few times with much success.
” I have done 500 meters, so perhap the distance fo
r me would be 250 meters.” noted Justin at the end of the interview.
No doubt about it, Justin Gatlin will race less this year, but hopefully, faster. Justin is racing for times and medals in 2015.
He wants to make a statement.
And his feet will do much of the talking.
Larry Eder has had a 50-year involvement in the sport of athletics. Larry has experienced the sport as an athlete, coach, magazine publisher, and now, journalist and blogger. His first article, on Don Bowden, America's first sub-4 minute miler, was published in RW in 1983. Larry has published several magazines on athletics, from American Athletics to the U.S. version of Spikes magazine. He currently manages the content and marketing development of the RunningNetwork, The Shoe Addicts, and RunBlogRun. Of RunBlogRun, his daily pilgrimage with the sport, Larry says: "I have to admit, I love traveling to far away meets, writing about the sport I love, and the athletes I respect, for my readers at runblogrun.com, the most of anything I have ever done, except, maybe running itself."
Theme song: Greg Allman, " I'm no Angel."
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