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Gatlin sets sights on Bolt's 9.58

Published:Friday | July 17, 2015 | 7:00 AM
Bolt (left) and Gatlin

MONTE CARLO, Monaco:

Justin Gatlin says he definitely thinks he is capable of bettering Usain Bolt's 9.58 world record in the 100m, while playing down suggestions that the big Jamaican is deliberately avoiding him. Gatlin was addressing members of he media ahead of today's IAAF Diamond League meet at the Stade Louis II.

The American, who faces a solid field, which includes countrymen Tyson Gay and Trayvon Bromell along with Jamaican Nickel Ashmeade and Frenchman Jimmy Vicaut, is also banking on Bolt rounding into top shape by the time the 100m and 200m finals come around at next month's World Championships in Beijing, noting that he thinks that will be the ideal time to face the six-time Olympic champion and reigning world double sprint champion.

Gatlin's last loss in either the 100m or 200m came in 2013, while there has been much doubt about Bolt's readiness after injury forced him out of the Paris and Lausanne Diamond League meets earlier this month.

"I always believe that, if one man can do it (run a record time), then another can do it, it opens up the door and that's how humans have been for years and decades," said Gatlin. "At the end of the day, I do think 9.58 is obtainable; it just takes the right time, the right day and the right opponents to push you through to such a magnificent record."

right time

"Is he (Bolt) avoiding me? I don't think so. I think he is a great showman, he's the kind of guy that will wait until when its right, and hopefully Beijing and the 100m finals or the 200m will be the right time for us to put on a spectacular show.

"I think it's a great lead-up to a really good story and a really good race, so it's a highly anticipated bout that is to come. In the past, in 2012, he got beaten at his nationals in the 100m and 200m, but he went out there and prevailed in the 100m and 200m, so the guy knows how to step up," Gatlin added of Bolt. "I believe that he will be fit. He is the kind of guy who knows how to show up on the day."

Gatlin, who also brushed aside the IAAF's recent rule change that bars athletes - like himself, who have been charged with doping offences, from winning its end-of-year Athlete of the Year award, says he has been itching to break the 9.69 American record held by Gay.

"I don't run for awards, I run for medals so that doesn't matter to me," Gatlin insisted.

Besides Ashmeade, who himself will be looking to bounce back from a horrible 20.96 last-place finish in the 200m in Lausanne recently, Jamaica's interest will come in the women's 400m where national champion Christine Day and Commonwealth champion Stephenie-Ann McPherson will face American Francena McCorory and Brit Christine Ohuruogu.

US-born Jamaican athlete Aisha Praught will also feature in the women's 3000m steeplechase, where she is expected to be pacing for two kilometres, in what she considers important speed work ahead of her World Championships competition.

The men's triple jump will again put American Christian Taylor and Cuban Pedro Pablo Pichardo going at it in what should be another assault on the 18m mark, while veteran Dawn Harper-Nelson and youngsters Sharika Nelvis, Jasmin Stowers and Brianna Rollins will lock horns in the 100m hurdles.