Justin Gatlin

Justin Gatlin eyes more 200s after undefeated season

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Justin Gatlin hopes to race the 100m and the 200m at the 2015 World Championships, setting his sights on becoming the second-fastest American ever in the 200m following an undefeated 2014.

“Possibly run 19.4 [seconds in the 200m],” Gatlin said in a phone interview Tuesday. “[The 100m] is my first focus. Then prepare myself to run 200s after that.”

Michael Johnson holds the American 200m record of 19.32 set in the 1996 Olympic final. If Gatlin can better 19.50, he would pass two-time 2008 Olympic bronze medalist Walter Dix as the fourth-fastest all time in the event and second among Americans.

Usain Bolt has the world record, 19.19, and Yohan Blake has run 19.26.

Gatlin’s confidence is understandable after he won all of his races this season — though Bolt and Blake missed much of the campaign due to injury.

The 2004 Olympic 100m champion clocked a personal-best 100m (9.77) at age 32, matching his then-world record time from 2006 that was wiped out due to his four-year doping ban that lasted to 2010.

He also ran his fastest-ever 200m, a 19.68 in Monaco on July 18. Bolt ran 19.66 to win at the 2013 World Championships, where Gatlin only contested the 100m.

Gatlin was most proud of his effort in Brussels on Sept. 5, though. That’s where he posted that 9.77 over 100m and then won a 200m in 19.71 an hour later, the fastest single-day sprint double in history.

“I went into the season preparing for a good, challenging season, and I came out dominant,” Gatlin said. “It’s a preview going into next season. Me and my coach wanted to put together a blueprint to be successful the next three years [through the Rio 2016 Olympics].”

In Rio, Gatlin could become the oldest man to stand on an Olympic 100m or 200m podium by two years (Linford Christie won the 1992 Olympic 100m at 32).

‘A lot of people, I guess, want to count me out, but I think with my age and my wisdom, being away from the track for a while has brought me fresh legs,” Gatlin said, likening his age in track years to 26 or 27. “I’m still 32, but I love how my body feels.”

Gatlin did fail to check off one goal this season — the American record in the 100m. He’s still .08 off Tyson Gay‘s mark from 2009. Gay returned from a doping suspension in July. Gatlin said he and Gay did not speak at length this summer.

“We’re just competitors,” Gatlin said. “No ill-will against him.”

Gatlin did take notice of Bolt’s comments earlier this month. Bolt said he didn’t think he would have beaten Gatlin this year, given the Jamaican’s injury and Gatlin’s form. Bolt and Gatlin haven’t raced against each other since September 2013. Gatlin beat Bolt once in June 2013.

“I have respect for him, and I’m glad that he could show respect for me,” said Gatlin, who said he partied with Bolt after their last meet together in Brussels last year. “I’m a guy who’s not scared of him. He knows that.”

Gatlin said Bolt showed his human side this season, being set back by foot surgery and held to two relay legs and two low-key 100m races.

“When you’re dominating [like Bolt], it’s a lot of wear and tear on your body,” he said. “It’s day-in and day-out that you have to be on top. That’s more punishing that just losing.”

Like Bolt, Gatlin has taken to a signature pre- and post-race move, firing an imaginary gun with his fingers. The first three letters of his last name is slang for a gun. Friends call him, “Gatlin Guns.”

“I look at myself as a gunslinger,” Gatlin said. “You can’t win every race, but I’m coming out shooting.”

Gatlin was also motivated this season by meets that refuse to invite athletes who have served lengthy suspensions.

“The one thing about this sport that I’ve learned is people say whatever they want to say behind your back or to the media, but when it’s time to talk to you or acknowledge something, they forget that it happened,” Gatlin said, mentioning a meet promoter from a Zurich competition, which did not invite him due a bylaw outlawing athletes with lengthy bans, according to The Associated Press. Gatlin said he also sat at a dinner table with that promoter.

Gatlin told the AP in August, “I look at myself as the ‘Batman’ of track — a vigilante. You may not like me, but I’m needed.”

“This year, I really wanted to show them that your meet really lacks luster without me involved,” Gatlin said Tuesday. “Usain Bolt’s not the only headliner that’s out there, that brings excitement to races.”

Gatlin’s perfect season and checkered past make his candidacy for season awards an interesting case. Asked who he would vote for as the top U.S. and global men’s track and field athletes this year, he said, “I guess it would be kind of cliché to vote for myself, huh.”

So Gatlin instead tipped his cap to LaShawn Merritt, the Diamond League 400m champion, and Qatar’s Mutaz Barshim, who became the No. 2 high jumper of all time this year.

Lauryn Williams ‘playing with the idea’ of bobsled this season

Bobby Joe Morrow, triple Olympic sprint champion, dies at 84

Bobby Joe Morrow
AP
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Bobby Joe Morrow, one of four men to win the 100m, 200m and 4x100m at one Olympics, died at age 84 on Saturday.

Morrow’s family said he died of natural causes.

Morrow swept the 100m, 200m and 4x100m at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics, joining Jesse Owens as the only men to accomplish the feat. Later, Carl Lewis and Usain Bolt did the same.

Morrow, raised on a farm in San Benito, Texas, set 11 world records in a short career, according to World Athletics.

He competed in one Olympics, and that year was named Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year while a student at Abilene Christian. He beat out Mickey Mantle and Floyd Patterson.

“Bobby had a fluidity of motion like nothing I’d ever seen,” Oliver Jackson, the Abilene Christian coach, said, according to Sports Illustrated in 2000. “He could run a 220 with a root beer float on his head and never spill a drop. I made an adjustment to his start when Bobby was a freshman. After that, my only advice to him was to change his major from sciences to speech, because he’d be destined to make a bunch of them.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Johnny Gregorek runs fastest blue jeans mile in history

Johnny Gregorek
Getty Images
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Johnny Gregorek, a U.S. Olympic hopeful runner, clocked what is believed to be the fastest mile in history for somebody wearing jeans.

Gregorek recorded a reported 4 minutes, 6.25 seconds, on Saturday to break the record by more than five seconds (with a pacer for the first two-plus laps). Gregorek, after the record run streamed live on his Instagram, said he wore a pair of 100 percent cotton Levi’s.

Gregorek, the 28-year-old son of a 1980 and 1984 U.S. Olympic steeplechaser, finished 10th in the 2017 World Championships 1500m. He was sixth at the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials.

He ranked No. 1 in the country for the indoor mile in 2019, clocking 3:49.98. His outdoor mile personal best is 3:52.94, ranking him 30th in American history.

Before the attempt, a fundraiser was started for the National Alliance on Mental Illness, garnering more than $29,000. Gregorek ran in memory of younger brother Patrick, who died suddenly in March 2019.

“Paddy was a fan of anything silly,” Gregorek posted. “I think an all out mile in jeans would tickle him sufficiently!”

MORE: Seb Coe: Track and field needs more U.S. meets

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