America’s 100m World champion Justin Gatlin is still in the race to feature at the World Athletics Championship in Doha in three weeks’ time as he bids to defend his title after suffering a fitness scare.
Gatlin, while participating at the IAAF World Challenge meeting in Zagreb on Tuesday, pulled a hamstring as he struggled to finish in fourth place 10.29 seconds in the race.
The 2004 Olympics 100M Gold medalist’s 9.87 seconds which he recorded at the US nationals is the fourth-fastest time this year. He started the race in Zagreb, leading for a brief period before showing signs of pain at the 80M mark.
He was subsequently helped off the track by a fellow athlete at the end of the race which was won by fellow Americans Micheal Rodgers at a wind assisted time of 10.04seconds.
However, with just three weeks left before he defends his 100M title which he won two years ago ahead of Usain Bolt, Gatlin’s hamstring tests cleared him against any damage and will return to training in a week according to his manager Ronaldo Nehemiah.
“He said he started to feel something grabbing, so he immediately tried to protect against any potential injury occurring. Tests to Gatlin’s hamstring showed he still had 100 per cent strength in the leg and there were no adhesions or anything,” Nehemiah added.
The 37-year-old American sprinter, whose area of expertise is in 100 and 200-meter events, is not just the reigning 100m World Champion. He was the 2004 Olympic champion in the 100 meters, and also the 2005 and 2017 World champion in the same 100 meters event. Gatlin was also the 2005 World champion at 200 meters. However, he was banned from competing between 2006 and 2010 by the USADA for failing a second drugs test, testing positive for testosterone.
After missing the 2008 Beijing Olympics while serving a 4-year ban for failing a doping test between 2006 and 2010, Gatlin finished third at the 2012 London Olympics and followed with a silver medal at Rio 2016 Games. He will hope to feature at a fourth Olympics in Tokyo next year.
Gatlin aims to defend his title which he won in London 2 years ago when the 2019 Championships starts in a matter of weeks.
Written by: Idowu Daniel Ademiju