by Ben Coldwell,
Justin Gatlin says Kim Collins’ incredible form at 40 years old may lead him to prolong his own career, with the American hinting that he may wish to continue running at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
Gatlin, who was speaking after running a season’s best time of 9.93 at the Golden Gala Pietro Mennea Diamond League in Rome, described the veteran sprinter from St Kitts & Nevis, who also ran 9.93 recently in Germany to beat his personal best from two years ago, as an “inspiration”.
“He inspires me,” said the controversial US sprinter, who has been banned twice for performance-enhancing drugs. “At my age things get a little hazy and I think how long can I go? But you watch someone like Kim Collins who’s still putting out great times, it opens up the door of possibilities for myself and younger athletes to say if you really love the sport and you’re passionate about the sport and stay diligent to yourself and your craft, you can go a long time.”
When asked whether he sees himself competing at the age of 40, the 34-year-old said: “I’ll talk to my son. If he wants to see me at 2020 in Tokyo then I’ll take a crack at it, but right now I’m living year by year and having an exciting time with it. I love it and I’m just building more excitement towards the end of the year each time.”
The 2004 Olympic 100m champion has had a relatively slow start to 2016 in comparison to the past two years where he had run sub-9.80 by June, and clocked a 9.74 personal best by this stage last year.
Qatar’s Femi Ogunode, who has also served a drugs ban, currently sits top of the world rankings having run a 9.91 in April, while Gatlin and Collins are joint-second with 9.93
“I think everybody is just pacing themselves,” Gatlin said. “Everybody wants to show their best form when it counts the most. Everyone is trying to gauge themselves and see where they’re at then go and train to make sure they’re ready so once they step on to the trials they can make that team. And once they get to the Olympics, then get on that podium.
“I don’t think anyone will go out there and predict a time to win. You don’t want to put yourself in a situation where you’re thinking about a time when you need to be thinking about competing and the competition with seven other guys. They’re who you’ve really got to beat.”
Gatlin also said that there was no chance that the outbreak and spread of the Zika virus in Brazil would prevent him from going to compete at the Rio Olympics.
He said: “We don’t get a chance to do a final four or a Superbowl. This is our championship. At that point in time, if Zika’s not going to kill me I’m going to be down there and trying to run for my Olympic dreams.
“It’s such a mysterious disease, illness, whatever you want to call it. A lot of people don’t understand it. You’ve just got to go out there and do what you’ve got to do. If you focus on things outside of your power you’re going to be distracted.”