Justin Gatlin is one of the fastest men in history.
The 2004 Olympic champion over 100 metres was one of few sprinters to ever beat Usain Bolt during his prime, claiming his second World Championship gold medal over the blue-riband distance in 2017.
Gatlin had previously conquered the globe over both 100 and 200 metres in Helsinki in 2005, while also adding 4×100-metre relay gold to his collection with Team USA in 2019.
Gatlin: One of the fastest men in history
However, it was at a Diamond League meeting in 2015 that Gatlin posted his fastest ever time over 100m, crossing the line in 9.74 seconds to become the fifth-fastest human being in history.
Naturally, Bolt is still miles ahead with his eye-watering world record of 9.58, but Gatlin’s electrifying time saw him breathing down the neck of some of the swiftest men to have ever worn spikes.
Tyson Gay and Yohan Blake both boast personal bests of 9.69 and former world-record holder Asafa Powell reached his peak with a time of 9.72 as the only sprinters to clock quicker times than Gatlin.
Or, at least, that’s the case when we’re talking about legal times, because technically Gatlin has covered 100 metres in less time than it took Bolt when he registered 9.58 at Berlin in 2009.
And no, we’re not talking about anything untoward, but rather an experimental race for Japanese television where Gatlin was given some extra assistance by massive wind turbines.
Gatlin’s unofficial world record
According to the Independent, Gatlin’s bizarre race over 100 metres was a stunt performed for a game show called ‘Kasupe!’ in early 2016 with a series of wind aids aiming to propel him towards an unofficial world record.
A massive turbine helped the US sprinter to launch out of the blocks at superhuman speeds, before a series of fans further down the track helped him to maintain his course towards the finish line.
The result? An unbelievable time of 9.45 seconds that might well be the fastest 100-metre sprint in history under any conditions, so be sure to check out the astonishing run down below:
Now that, ladies and gentlemen, is rapid.
A crazy experiment
So, for the record, the wind reading must be below two metres per second in order for a time to be eligible for a world record, otherwise a gust can have as much to do with the odd hundredth of a second as skill.
As such, there was never any threat that Gatlin’s time would be treated legitimately in the athletics community and no doubt the man himself was only doing it for a bit of fun anyway.
Nevertheless, it doesn’t make it any less amusing and fascinating to see the thought experiment of an elite sprinter running 100 metres with a massive wind aid being played out in real life.
Gatlin has now retired from professional sprinting and remains a controversial figure in the sport having been banned from athletics in 2001 and 2006 for doping-related offences.