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Justin Gatlin: I’m the world’s fastest man


NEW YORK — Justin Gatlin is the world 100m champion. Usain Bolt is the Olympic 100m champion and world-record holder.

So who holds the title of world’s fastest man?

“I would consider myself the world’s fastest man because I won the [most recent] title,” at worlds in August, Gatlin said earlier this month at the USATF Black Tie and Sneakers Gala. “But you have to pay homage to Usain Bolt. He has the fastest times in the world.”

Carl Lewis, a two-time Olympic 100m champion, agreed.

“The one who won [a global title] last is the world’s fastest man,” Lewis said. “That’s Justin. He was the last one to win it. You can’t go back two times ago.”

Gatlin has been busy since edging Christian Coleman and Bolt at worlds in London. He started the Justin Gatlin Foundation, which hosted its inaugural sprint clinic in Staten Island in September, and traveled around the country to thank supporters.

He pointed out that he will be considered the world’s fastest man until at least 2019; 2018 is the only year in the Olympic cycle without a global championship. Worlds are held in odd years.

“No matter how many races you lose,” Gatlin said, “you’re still world champion.”

Gatlin’s goal for 2018 is “just running fast.” He plans on entering fewer races but also competing in smaller meets in locations around the world he would not normally visit.

Gatlin, who finished second to Bolt in the 200m at the 2015 World Championships, is not sure whether he will continue to race that event. He has not since bowing out in the Rio Olympic semifinals. Coach Dennis Mitchell prefers he specialize in the 100m.

Gatlin, 35, still has his eye on Tyson Gay’s American record of 9.69 seconds. Gatlin’s personal best is 9.74, set in 2015.

“People always look at age as a factor, but I still feel young,” said Gatlin, the 2004 Olympic 100m champion who served a four-year doping ban from 2006 to 2010. “I train with young people. I take care of my body. I’ve learned when to tap-out during races and practices. I think I’ve still got a good shot at running the fastest I’ve ever run in my life over the next three years.”

As reigning world champion, Gatlin is guaranteed a 2019 World Championships spot, additional incentive to continue sprinting.

“I’m already on the starting line, and I’ve got to train for that because I can’t throw that away,” Gatlin said. “Then I’ve got to squeeze 2020 out after 2019.”

Gatlin will be 38 in 2020, when the Olympics will be in Tokyo. He is already the oldest Olympic 100m medalist ever after finishing second to Bolt at the Rio Games at 34.

“In a perfect world,” he said, “I started my career with an Olympic gold medal, and I would like to end my career with an Olympic gold medal.”

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Two Italian cities discuss possible Winter Olympic bid

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ROME (AP) — Milan and Turin are in discussions with the Italian Olympic Committee about a possible bid for the 2026 Winter Games.

Turin Mayor Chiara Appendino sent a letter of interest to CONI on Sunday despite divisions in her own party, the populist 5-Star Movement, on a candidacy. Milan Mayor Giuseppe Sala met with CONI president Giovanni Malago on Monday.

“I think Milan has everything required but we won’t do anything without a government and its approval,” Sala said Tuesday.

Italy awaits a new government in the next few weeks following a national election this month that yielded no clear majority.

CONI is still recovering from its dropped Rome bid for the 2024 Summer Games, which ended following staunch opposition from Mayor Virginia Raggi, who also represents the 5-Star Movement.

Among the cities which have shown preliminary interest for 2026: Calgary, Canada; Sion, Switzerland; and Sapporo, Japan.

Turin hosted the Winter Games in 2006. The 2026 host will be decided by the International Olympic Committee in Milan in September 2019.

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Nathan Chen no longer grasping for gold going into world champs

Nathan Chen
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Nathan Chen is arguably a bigger favorite at this week’s world championships than going into the Olympics, but Chen learned from his frightening PyeongChang experience not to think in those terms.

“I don’t want to dwell so much on medals like I did at the Games,” Chen said last week. “That was one of the biggest things that sort of screwed me up at the Olympics. … I was so hell-bent on that, on really the gold. It ended up just making me scared. It made me really nervous and didn’t give me the confidence I needed.”

Chen arrived in PyeongChang last month undefeated for the season. His first two skates in South Korea resulted in the two worst short program scores of his senior international career.

The 18-year-old nailed his last performance, a personal-best free skate as the first man to land five clean quadruple jumps at an Olympics. The highest program score in the field by nearly nine points. Chen moved from 17th place to fifth, confirming his place among the sport’s big-stage performers.

Then two of those icons — Olympic gold and bronze medalists Yuzuru Hanyu and Javier Fernandez — withdrew from this week’s world championships in Milan.

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“Honestly, I was a little disappointed that Yuzu pulled [out of worlds],” Chen said (Hanyu cited a right ankle injury that kept him out of competition from November until the Olympics). “Obviously, he needs to get healthy. I don’t know what his future entails, but I wanted to have him there. It really ups the ante of the competition. Everyone definitely feels his presence and Javi’s presence.”

Chen spent the last week of the Olympics in Seoul with family members. He said he took maybe one day off from training after flying home to Southern California.

His coolest post-Olympic experience: attending NBA games, such as Cavaliers-Clippers with a backstage pass to watch players exit. And being shown on the jumbotron.

What Chen has not done in the last month is watch full video of his Olympic performances. Just jump compilations from his free skate. Nothing from either of the short programs.

“But I know exactly what it felt like,” he said. “I don’t really want to go back and review it since I know within myself what it felt like, but, again, if I find the need to some day go back and remember it, I think it’s a good resource.”

Chen is expected to challenge Japan’s Shoma Uno (Olympic silver medalist) and China’s Jin Boyang (2016 and 2017 World bronze medalist) for the world title.

Chen said last week that he plans two quads in his short program (Lutz and flip) and, depending on how the short goes, five in his free skate (six, which he attempted at the Olympics with one messy landing, “is pushing it a little bit.”).

Chen faces a decision after worlds. He applied to “six or seven” colleges — mostly California schools, but two on the East Coast — and, as of last week, had not heard back from any.

He plans to continue competing next season under Southern California-based coach Rafael Arutyunyan regardless of which school he chooses.

“Applications were mostly just for the purpose of trying to get into the colleges,” he said. “Once I hear back from them, I’ll figure out logistics and see how I’ll balance them both [school and skating].”

No American has won a world title since ice dancers Meryl Davis and Charlie White in 2013, marking the nation’s longest drought in 42 years. Chen can end it. What an end it would be to his season as well.

“It would be incredible,” Chen said, “but I still have a lot of worlds ahead of me.”

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