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

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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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Mikaela Shiffrin heads to world championships with medal records in sight

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Before Mikaela Shiffrin can hold the World Cup wins record, she can become the most decorated Alpine skier in modern world championships history.

Shiffrin takes a respite from World Cup pursuits for the biennial world championships in France. She is expected to race at least four times, beginning with Monday’s combined.

Shiffrin has a tour-leading 11 World Cup victories in 23 starts this season, her best since her record 17-win 2018-19 campaign, but world championships do not count toward the World Cup.

Shiffrin remains one career victory behind Swede Ingemar Stenmark‘s record 86 World Cup wins until at least her next World Cup start in March.

Shiffrin has been more successful at worlds than at the Olympics and even on the World Cup. She has 11 medals in 13 world championships races dating to her 2013 debut, including making the podium in each of her last 10 events.

ALPINE SKIING WORLDS: Broadcast Schedule

She enters worlds one shy of the modern, post-World War II individual records for total medals (Norway’s Kjetil Andre Aamodt won 12) and gold medals (Austrian Toni Sailer, Frenchwoman Marielle Goitschel and Swede Anja Pärson won seven).

Worlds take place exactly one year after Shiffrin missed the medals in all of her Olympic races, but that’s not motivating her.

“If I learned anything last year, it’s that these big events, they can go amazing, and they can go terrible, and you’re going to survive no matter what,” she said after her most recent World Cup last Sunday. “So I kind of don’t care.”

Shiffrin ranks No. 1 in the world this season in the giant slalom (Feb. 16 at worlds) and slalom (Feb. 18).

This year’s combined is one run of super-G coupled with one run of slalom (rather than one downhill and one slalom), which also plays to her strengths. She won that event, with that format, at the last worlds in 2021. The combined isn’t contested on the World Cup, so it’s harder to project favorites.

Shiffrin is also a medal contender in the super-G (Feb. 8), despite starting just two of five World Cup super-Gs this season (winning one of them).

She is not planning to race the downhill (Feb. 11), which she often skips on the World Cup and has never contested at a worlds. Nor is she expected for the individual parallel (Feb. 15), a discipline she hasn’t raced in three years in part due to the strain it puts on her back with the format being several runs for the medalists.

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Lucas Braathen, world’s top male slalom skier, in doubt for world championships

Lucas Braathen
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Norway’s Lucas Braathen, the world’s top male slalom skier this season, is doubtful to compete in the world championships slalom on Feb. 19 after appendix surgery on Tuesday.

“It’s been a tough couple of days fighting after surprisingly finding out about quite an intense infection on my appendix,” Braathen, a 22-year-old soccer convert with a Brazilian mom, posted on social media. “I’ve been through surgery and I’m blessed that it went successfully.”

The Norway Alpine skiing team doctor said Braathen’s recovery will take a few weeks, but there is a small possibility he can make it back for the world championships slalom, which is on the final day of the two-week competition.

Braathen has two slalom wins and one giant slalom win this World Cup season. He will miss Saturday’s slalom in Chamonix, France, the last race before worlds. Countryman Henrik Kristoffersen and Swiss Daniel Yule can overtake him atop the World Cup slalom standings in Chamonix.

Braathen entered last year’s Olympics as the World Cup slalom leader and skied out in the first run at the Games.

ALPINE SKIING WORLDS: Broadcast Schedule

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