Bronze Medalist Justin Gatlin Calls Usain Bolt “Beatable”

August 7, 2012 – 8:00 am by Eric Schmoldt

It’s not Justin Gatlin’s proclamation that seems so preposterous here. The American sprinter is right, technically, when he says Usain Bolt is beatable in the 100 meters. Bolt, who won the gold medal in the event on Sunday, has been beaten before by Yohan Blake, his teammate, who took the silver.

It’s more so just where the words are coming from. Sure, Gatlin finished third and earned himself a spot on the medal stand during what was a fast final from top to bottom. But Gatlin, who served a four-year doping ban and was booed at his medal ceremony, ran a personal-best time of 9.79 seconds, more than one-tenth of a second behind Bolt. Still, Gatlin says Bolt is beatable on the right day.

Justin Gatlin joined The Dan Patrick Show with Glen Ordway to discuss how he felt in winning the bronze medal in the 100 meter sprint, what he could have done to win the race, making the podium by the narrowest of margins, if he’s concerned he’ll face more scrutiny, how he stuck with sprinting through his four-year ban, how Usain Bolt can be beaten, his future in sprinting and why times keep getting faster and faster.

You were under a four-year ban and missed the last Olympics but returned and won bronze. How do you feel?:

“You know what? I feel good because I look at everything I’ve been through and just to be grateful that I could come back and be on the podium eight years later, and it’s a dream come true. I look back at it on a technical aspect, there’s a lot of things I could’ve did better in my race. … I think that Bolt’s a beatable runner. My hat’s off to him. He’s a great runner, a great competitor, but I’m out there to win.”

What could you have done to win the race?:

“My first two couple of steps were kind of short and a couple of my teammates and my coach told me that. Toward the middle of the race, I could’ve stayed a little more patient instead of surging for the front. And it would have helped me along the way and toward the end of the race as well.”

Do you think at all about the fact that you were 0.01 seconds away from not being on the podium?:

“Oh yeah, I thought about that when I saw the times on the clock. I dropped to my knees and thanked God. I was like, ‘Hey, you know what? Thanks for giving me a strong back to lean forward.’ And he got me on the medal stand.”

Are you concerned that because you tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs that you now face more scrutiny?:

“At one point in time, I did feel that way, when it was up in the air. But innocent or guilty … I served four years off of something I love and something I’ve been doing for almost all my life and running very stellar times throughout my career. To come back and duplicate times I did before I left the sport, I think it’s an achievement within itself. And I’ve got to wake up as Justin Gatlin every day, so I can’t really dwell on what people and critics are going to say.”

How did you stay with it during that time?:

“I just thought about that the four years that I’m away from the sport and those guys are out there running their butts off very hard throughout those four years, I’m just going to think of it as shelf life. So now I’ve got another four years to be able to come out there and compete and hopefully get a chance to be on the team for Rio de Janeiro in 2016. I’m just glad I’m healthy and strong.”

How do you believe that Usain Bolt can be beaten?:

“We’re talking about something like it hasn’t been done before, which it has. He’s been beaten by his own teammate twice. … The guy is beatable, it’s just that you’ve got to pick the right day, right conditions. It’s a small window of error, a small margin of success, but it’s attainable.”

Will you run four years from now?:

“I hope so. I’ve never been to Brazil before and I heard it’s very nice so hopefully I get a free trip there and hopefully win some hardware there as well. … I’ve thought about it. I don’t think I’m reaching any uncharted territory. Carl Lewis has done it … these guys who are legends in our sport have gone well into their 30s and were still running great times. I’m not trying to make a hobby out of it, but I want to run until I say, ‘Justin, put the spikes down; it’s over.’”

Why do the times constantly get better and better and better?:

“It’s evolution. It’s the evolution of track and field, the sprint world. It’s two things. When you have great runners and when you have someone that’s leading the pack, like Bolt, it pushes other athletes to train harder, to compete better. Then, on the other side, you have people who are building these tracks and building better blocks and there’s better ways to run faster.”

Listen to Justin Gatlin on The Dan Patrick Show here (Interview begins at 21:35)

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