Justin Gatlin: I’m the guy to beat right now

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Justin Gatlin didn’t lack confidence at his first meet of the season Saturday.

“This year is all about medals. I want to win when it counts,” Gatlin said at the Texas Relays, according to The Associated Press. “I’d say I’m the guy to beat right now.”

Would Usain Bolt agree?

Gatlin, who debuted in a relay at the Texas meet, has not raced Bolt since September 2013. In August 2013, Bolt won the World Championships 100m final, 9.77 seconds to Gatlin’s 9.85.

In 2014, Gatlin posted five of the six fastest 100m times, including a best of 9.77. Bolt ran a total of 400 meters in competition for the year, half in relays, and cut his campaign short due to March foot surgery.

Yohan Blake, the 2012 Olympic 100m and 200m silver medalist behind Bolt, said in January, “You could say he’s [Gatlin] the man.”

Bolt said in August that he didn’t think he would have beaten Gatlin if they raced against each other last year.

Asked of Gatlin again in February, Bolt chuckled softly and chose his words carefully. Bolt has said he’s in favor of lifetime bans for athletes who purposely cheat. Gatlin is five years removed from a four-year doping ban.

“I try to be a nice person here, not say anything rude,” Bolt said in February, pausing to continue his thought. “He did well last season. So that’s good.”

Gatlin recently made headlines by re-signing with Nike, which had dropped him after his initial drug ban in 2006.

This season, Gatlin, 33, hopes to become the oldest man to win an Olympic or World Championships 100m. He’s not expected to go head-to-head with Bolt before then, though Bolt will race individually in the U.S. for the first time in seven years.

Domestically, Gatlin’s biggest threat may be a man he hugged at the Texas Relays on Saturday. That’s Baylor sophomore Trayvon Bromell, the World junior 100m champion in a junior record 9.97 seconds last June. Bromell is 14 years younger and four inches shorter than Gatlin.

Only Gatlin, Tyson Gay and Mike Rodgers ran faster than Bromell last year, among Americans.

“The sky’s the limit,” Gatlin said of Bromell, according to The Associated Press. “Some people question his height and his size, but he’s able to use his body to his advantage. [Last year] was a year when short striders were the fastest sprinters. It hasn’t hurt anybody else.”

Bromell, who ran a wind-aided 9.90 on Saturday, also impressed Pro Bowl running back Jamaal Charles.

Charles, a former NCAA Championships 100m finalist for the University of Texas, introduced himself to Bromell, but Bromell did not recognize him, according to the Austin American-Statesman.

“I knew it had to be a football player,” Bromell said, according to the report. “He looks like a football player. But I only study track.”

Usain Bolt details retirement plan for 2017

*Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that Usain Bolt and Justin Gatlin last raced at the 2013 World Championships. They last raced at a Diamond League meet in Brussels in September 2013.

Chicago Marathon canceled; one major marathon left in 2020

Chicago Marathon
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The Chicago Marathon, scheduled for Oct. 11, was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic, becoming the fourth World Marathon Major called off this year.

Organizers cited the challenge of staging the 45,000-runner event “out of concern for the safety of event participants, volunteers, event staff and spectators.”

Previously, major marathons were canceled in Berlin (originally scheduled for Sept. 27), Boston (April 20, then Sept. 14) and New York City (Nov. 1). The London Marathon, originally scheduled for April 26 and postponed to Oct. 4, remains scheduled.

The other World Marathon Major, Tokyo, took place on its scheduled date of March 1 but with elite runners only.

Last year, Kenyan Brigid Kosgei won Chicago by taking 81 seconds off Paula Radcliffe‘s 16-year-old women’s marathon world record. Kosgei clocked 2:14:04.

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MORE: U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials results

Figure skating Grand Prix events in China remain scheduled

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Figure skating Grand Prix events in China in November and December remain scheduled, the International Skating Union announced Monday, four days after reports about international sporting events in China being canceled through the end of 2020.

A notice about sports events, issued Thursday by the General Administration of Sport of China, made an exception for Beijing Winter Olympic test events and other preparations for the first Winter Games in China in February 2022.

The Grand Prix Final, the second-most prestigious annual figure skating competition, is still scheduled for December in Beijing because it is an Olympic test event.

Furthermore, the Cup of China, one of six events across the globe that determines Grand Prix Final qualifiers, remains scheduled for November in Chongqing because it is related to the Final.

“Like for all other five ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating events in the different countries, this is of course subject to finding the necessary logistical, medical and safety solutions to hold the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating events as planned,” according to the ISU.

The ISU previously announced it set a deadline to decide on possible event cancellations: 12 weeks before an event starts. For the first Grand Prix Series competition, Skate America in Las Vegas, the decision deadline is Aug. 1.

The ISU council will meet virtually on Aug. 3 to decide on further action for upcoming competitions.

MORE: Tai Babilonia, a Winter Olympic original, credits skating trailblazer

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