Justin Gatlin sent a message to Usain Bolt on Friday, both with his legs and with his mouth.
Gatlin lived up to the pre-season hype by winning the 100 meters in a world-leading 9.74 seconds at the Diamond League opener, a personal-best time and a new meet record for Doha. While Usain Bolt hasn’t made his season debut yet, it was an early marker from Justin Gatlin ahead of their anticipated showdown at the world championships in Beijing in August.
“That was for him Usain Bolt, my mission is to put an end to his reign as the 100 and 200 meter king” Gatlin said. “I just wanted to go out and put down a good time. I know I had to go out and make a statement tonight. That’s what my coach told me to do. The 100 and 200 meter crown belongs to the United States, we loan it to Jamaica but they have kept it for too long, this season it is coming back to the United States where it belongs.”
There was a big gap between Gatlin and his chasers, with U.S. relay teammate Michael Rodgers second in 9.96 and Keston Bledman of Trinidad and Tobago third in 10.01.
Gatlin was the fastest man in the world last season over both 100 and 200 meters while Usain Bolt rested, but went even faster in his first 100 of 2015 in the sweltering heat at Qatar Sports Club.
It is not clear when Usain Bolt will make his seasin debut, but when he does it will be interesting to see if he makes Justin Gatlin eat his words. Tracks fans from both Jamaica an the United States are anxiously waiting.