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PROTRACK » GENERAL » Gatlin out to prove he's legitimate

Gatlin out to prove he's legitimate

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1 Gatlin out to prove he's legitimate on Sat Jun 23, 2012 5:44 pm



OLYMPICS / ATHLETICS: Make or break for Gatlin -

REAL DEAL: Runner out to prove he is a legitimate athlete

 EUGENE (Oregon): JUSTIN Gatlin's bid for an Olympic comeback eight years after winning gold and following a four-year doping ban  comes down to showing the world that he is a legitimate champion after all.

Gatlin's quest hits the make or break moment this weekend in the 100 metres at the US Olympic trials, which he enters with the fastest 100 in the world by an American this year at 9.87 seconds from a victory last month at Doha.

"For me, it's almost like a welcoming home party," Gatlin said Thursday. "I don't think anybody expected me to get this far. Just being able to come back and compete is a victory in itself.

"It's the first time in a long time I feel excited like a little kid again."
Gatlin won 100m gold at Athens and 100m and 200m world titles in 2005, but he tested positive for doping and was banned from 2006-2010. Critics say he should not even have a chance for another Olympic appearance after shaming the sport.

"There was a point in my life when I was torn up," Gatlin said. "That's why I intend to show my detractors and naysayers that I am a legitimate athlete.

"I might not be one of the most charismatic guys out there, but I'm one of the bravest."

At 30, Gatlin sees himself as a winner just by getting in position to qualify for London by being one of the top three in tomorrow's 100m final.

"People just want to see how far the ride takes me," he said.

"When I line up against those other seven guys, I can say I'm victorious. I can say I know what my worth is as an athlete. I know what it's like to have a talent and not be able to use it and that makes me appreciate it even more.

"I'm a little older but also a little wiser and a little grittier."

Gatlin's fall from grace forced him to grow up, the days of sponsor money and high living replaced by working to pay bills.

"My life was track and field since high school. I didn't really have time to grow, learn what it was to pay bills, take on everyday life," he said. "I realised life is hard and something you work hard at. It gave me a chance to understand life in a hole."

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