Justin Gatlin geared up his bid to unseat sprint king Usain Bolt at this summer’s Rio Olympics with a time of 10.02 seconds to win the 100 meters at the Golden Grand Prix on Sunday.
American Gatlin, who lost out to Jamaica’s Bolt in both the 100 and 200 meters at last August’s world championships in Beijing, eased home ahead of Japan’s Ryota Yamagata and Ramon Gittens of Barbados at Kawasaki’s Todoroki Stadium.
“The race felt good,” said Athens Olympic 100-meter champion Gatlin. “I knew I was going to have a head wind when I practiced yesterday. Today I talked to my coach on the phone and he told me to have a good start. He knows that Japanese athletes have good starts, so just stay with them.
“I don’t want to start the season off so fast and run with such a high intensity so I came out here and just made sure I got the job done, execute my race and hopefully come away with the victory.”
Gatlin is likely to provide two-time Olympic double sprint champion Bolt with his strongest challenge in Rio, and the 34-year-old believes he has learned the lessons of last year’s world championship defeat.
“Definitely it has given me motivation but it’s also made me a smarter and a wiser competitor,” said Gatlin.