World Championships: Usain Bolt ready for Justin Gatlin's challenge
London: Usain Bolt insisted yesterday he would be ready for the challenge of toppling the in-form American Justin Gatlin at the World Championships in Beijing next month. The Jamaican made the pledge on the eve of his return from injury in the 100m on the opening night of the Anniversary Games Diamond League meeting in London today.
Olympic gold medallist Usain Bolt. INSET: Justin Gatlin. Pics: Getty Images
Bolt has not raced since winning the New York Diamond League 200m race on June 13 because of a pelvic problem. The world record holder at 100m and 200m also said that he had "a problem" with Gatlin's US teammate Tyson Gay about his doping past but not with Gatlin, who has served two doping suspensions and who has run the four fastest times of 2015 at both 100m and 200m.
Asked whether he had lost respect with rivals who had failed drugs tests in their sprinting careers, the 28-year-old replied: "The only person I really had a problem with was Tyson. The reason is I competed with Tyson throughout the years and I had so much respect for him. I looked at him as one of the greatest competitors I competed against. He was dedicated. He worked hard.
'Hurt and disappointed'
"When it happened (Gay tested positive for anabolic steroids in 2013 and served a one year ban) I was really disappointed. That really hurt me." Asked why he did not have a similar problem with Gatlin, Bolt said: "It was before my time. I'm not saying it was right but because me and Tyson competed so closely that hurt."
Gatlin has run 9.74sec for 100m this year and Bolt a modest 10.12sec in his only race at the distance in 2012 — in Rio de Janeiro in April. However, he maintained he was not daunted by the prospect of facing the US sprinter when he defends his World Championship 100m and 200m titles in Beijing, despite his lack of form and lack of competition this year.
"I never doubt myself," he said. "I look forward to competition. Beijing is a month away I'm not worried about that. I'm trying to take it a step at a time. "I've got two races tomorrow. I've been training really hard. I've been pushing myself, so it's all about execution now.
If I can execute right and get everything right, I know I'll run fast. It just takes one run to get to 9.7. I'm not worried about times. Asked whether a win for Gatlin in Beijing would be bad for the sport, Bolt laughed and replied: "I'm not planning to lose, so I can't really answer that question."