Justin Gatlin has grand homecoming
Five-time Olympic medalist ready for what's next
by Bill Vilona
Pensacola News Journal
Sep 30, 2012
When his emotions hit bottom, his future looked its bleakest, Justin Gatlin turned his most spiritual.
It started the resurrection of his career.
“I literally got on my knees one night, after losing faith,” he said, detailing the fateful moment three years ago. “I prayed out loud. I asked God to put me back where I was.”
Now, after a redeeming experience that led to a pair of Olympic medals, headlined by his bronze medal in the greatest men’s 100-meter race in Olympic history, Gatlin wants to go even further.
“I have so much left in the tank, and I am so hungry,” said Gatlin, 30, a Woodham High graduate who returned to Pensacola for a trio of events where he was honored by family, friends and community supporters. “Going into next year, the sky is the limit.”
Gatlin, who is now a five-time Olympic medalist, completed a remarkable comeback this season following a four-year ban from competition from 2006-2010, after testing positive for a banned testosterone substance at the Kansas Relays in April 2006.
He regained his form, won the U.S. Olympic Trials, won both heat races at the Olympics and matched his personal best with a 9.79-second run in the fastest Olympic final in history. He will head into 2013 trying to overtake Jamaican stars Usain Bolt and Yohan Blake who have reset standards for sprint speed.
“I just feel honored to be part of that race,” said Gatlin, during a reception in his honor Saturday night at the Zelica Grotto Hall on South K Street. “If you were sitting at home playing NFL Madden and you were able to bring in the unbeaten 1972 (Miami) Dolphins, or the greatest all-star (NFL) team, that’s what that race felt like.”
Gatlin will resume training in November at the National Training Center track facility in Clermont near Orlando. He will skip the indoor track and field season. A year ago, his win in the men’s 60-meter final got him opportunities to compete in major meets prior to the Olympic Trials.
But he doesn’t have to knock on doors and request entrance with track directors anymore. He will push toward being in peak form for the U.S. National Championships, then the World Championships in Russia on Aug. 10-18.
What’s Next For Gatlin?
- April 2013 — Likely first event for outdoor season.
- June 19-23 — USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships, Des Moines, Iowa.
- Aug. 10-18 — World Track and Field Championships, Moscow.
Gatlin's Olympic Medals
2004 Olympics - Athens
- Won gold medal in men’s 100-metres
- Won bronze medal in the 200-metres
- Won silver medal with U.S team in the 4x100-metre relay
2012 Olympics - London
- Won bronze medal in the men’s 100-metres
- Won silver medal with U.S teammates in 4x100-metre relay