Athletics

Usain Bolt in Gatlin's sights for Rome showdown

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Gatlin came third behind Usain Bolt at the Olympics. (©GettyImages)
Gatlin came third behind Usain Bolt at the Olympics. (©GettyImages).

Olympic bronze medallist Justin Gatlin is hoping to beat Usain Bolt when the pair do battle in Rome.

The American faces the six-time Olympic champion Bolt at Rome's Diamond League meeting tonight over 100m.

But Gatlin is confident going into the meeting and is aiming to beat the Jamaican.

"I train to be number one, that's what I'm shooting for," the 2004 Olympic champion told BBC Radio 5 live. "Bolt is a great runner and even though it seems like we go back and forward in the media, I respect him as a runner definitely.

"He is the most exciting runner I've ever seen in my life. I think that being able to compete against him is an honour."

Gatlin is going to Rome in arguably better shape than Bolt after running 9.88 seconds in Eugene last week. World record holder Bolt has only competed in the 100m once this season and failed to clock less than 10 seconds.

The American has questioned Bolt's motivation and suggests it might be hard for the 26-year old to continue competing.

"It's harder for a champion to come back to duplicate what you've already done over and over again because you lose a little bit of inspiration every time.

"I think that's the real Achilles heel of being a champion - to keep going."

Gatlin served a four-year ban after testing positive for excessive testosterone in 2006 but recovered to win bronze in London.

The American is in confident mood going into the summer and is trying to stay calm after the experience of London 2012.

"I have a different feel going into the season than I did last year," he said.

"It was a little more highly strung last year because it was the Olympic Games and I wanted to make sure it was the best season I ever had.

"I want to go into this season with that same attitude but more calm, more collected. I want to be able to know who my opponents are and what they do and what they bring to the table."

Gatlin is still yet to face Bolt and fellow Jamaican Yohan Blake this year. However, he has already beaten American team-mates Mike Rodgers and Ryan Baily and well as Jamaican Nesta Carer.

The World Championships in Moscow begin in August and Gatlin insists he is just trying to concentrate on his own preparations rather than the fellow top sprinters.

"You don't obsess over what your competitors are doing or how they're training because training is totally different from how they compete on the track," he said.

"But you do want to make sure that you are going to be able to stay up with them and stay competitive or overcome them and beat them so you always look for different ways - it's a strategy like war."


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Topics:
Diamond League
Usain Bolt
Athletics
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