Road To The Olympic Games

Track and Field·Analysis

Justin Gatlin wants to take Usain Bolt's Olympic title

After barely missing out on the 100-metre world title in Beijing last year, American sprinter Justin Gatlin is seeking revenge on Jamaican legend Usain Bolt as the two head for another clash at the Summer Olympics. But Olympic gold medallist Donovan Bailey doesn't see the script changing in Rio.

With Rio being his last Summer Games, American has a lot to prove

Usain Bolt, left, showed off his dominance by defeating American Justin Gatlin, right, at the 2015 world championships in Beijing. (Michael Steele/Getty Images)

This is the first in a series of four articles from Donovan Bailey, looking ahead to various Diamond League meets and the Olympics.


Saturday's 100-metre race in Shanghai, China, doesn't offer much in the way of star power, but it does showcase an interesting storyline worth watching as we approach the Rio Olympics in August.

American Justin Gatlin isn't just using this Diamond League track and field event as a way to prepare for the Summer Games; he also wants revenge on Usain Bolt in the men's 100 metres.

Last season, it looked like he had a decent chance of taking the world title away from Bolt.

A lot of experts — I was not one of them — were favouring Gatlin heading into the 2015 world championships in Beijing because he was undefeated to that point and Bolt was having a down year.

But Bolt, as he usually does, proved once again that a bigger, faster and stronger guy is always going to win.

Rapid Round with Justin Gatlin

Sports

5 years agoVideo
1:17
American sprinter Justin Gatlin gives his quick take on a variety of topics with CBC Sports 1:17

To be fair, Gatlin was only 1/100th of a second behind Bolt (9.80 to 9.79) in that race.

Gatlin felt he lost the race rather than Bolt beating him, and I think he believes he should win whenever he steps onto a track. Mind you, if you're a sprinter and you don't believe that you are capable of winning, you're probably in the wrong sport.

Saturday's race should give us a good gauge as to what kind of form Gatlin is in. With this being his last Olympics, he certainly has a lot to prove.

Regardless of how Gatlin performs in these lead-up races, my money is still on Bolt in Rio.

The last time I saw him he was in absolutely tremendous shape. He just looks like he's going to be faster. He seems to be way more focused. I think he wants to do something quite significant, even more so than what he's accomplished to this point of his amazing career.

Bolt is looking to become the first sprinter to sweep all three events — 100, 200 and 4x100 relay — at three straight Olympic Games.

I believe he'll deliver. There are simply no competitors, particularly in the 100, who I feel can unseat Bolt. 

De Grasse up to the task

I know there's been a lot of talk about whether Canada's Andre De Grasse can handle the pressure of Rio after bursting onto the scene last year.

I'm here to tell you he will.

I'm quite confident in Andre, his coaches and his support system. No Canadian, since I ran or retired, has ever made it to the Olympic final. So at the end of the day I'm quite confident that Andre will not only make it to the final, but will put himself in position to get a significant result.

The good thing with Andre right now is he could have a conversation with people that have been there before — like me. He's in a very safe place and I want to ensure that he's given all the opportunities to realize his blessed gifts.

And I'm going to make sure that we will break bread and have that conversation prior to the Rio Games.


Donovan Bailey is a two-time Olympic gold medallist and once held the world record for the 100 at 9.84 seconds.

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