September 2016 Volume 13

Proud of Bolt but Feeling Sorry for Gatlin

Michael O. Walters
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I am feeling sorry for Gatlin.  Frankly, I do not believe he deserves the vile comments he has been receiving from Jamaicans. 

Yes, apparently years ago he did some unacceptable things, but never received the level of disrespect as he did in Rio.  He was loudly booed as he entered the stadium in Brazil for the 100 meter finals.  Bolt was boisterously cheered as he entered. 

 Could the Jamaican (and I guess Brazilian and World hate campaign) be simply because he threatened to beat our lovable golden and boy?  Certainly, it could not be only for his drug use since others have failed drug tests (including Jamaicans) and they were never treated that way.

 Even Bolt has reported that he has no problems with Gatlin and he thinks Gatlin is a great competitor.  However, it seems like many of us does not share Bolt’s opinion.

I am happy that Bolt won the 100 meters race, but without others to run against him, like Gatlin, there would be no race.  After all, for the rest of his life, Gatlin will remember Bolt’s smiling face in the 100 meters Rio Finals (Photo_Rio_100_m_Finals).  Gatlin will see, over and over again, his grimaces which belied his struggles to cross the finish line.  (Bolt probably did not even think about Gatlin at that time but was just happy to be going across the finish line ahead of them all).   Isn’t that punishment enough?
My hope for Gatlin is that he can smile all the way to the bank and reap some benefits as someone who competed with Usain Bolt.  He is now 34 years old and is considered the old man in a young man’s sport and could not even make it to the finals of the 200 meters.

I have heard others say that Gatlin is cocky but we should realize that some things done before races are simply to build up the hype so we will watch it, and so that the athletes can make their money.  Bolt is also guilty of doing that and is seen as cocky too but since he delivers every time, he is given some leeway.  Based on the history of the two athletes, I cannot believe that Gatlin “really” believes he is going to beat Bolt.  However, he is going to try, and collect his paycheck for trying, especially on the European circuit. 

Gatlin, believe it or not, visited Jamaica and interacted with Jamaicans probably so he could better his techniques.
Perhaps at one time he had aspirations and was a Jamaican wanna-be, but I think not now, since he is so hated.  

See  photo  of Gatlin with his coach at the time, Trevor Graham, our Jamaican brother who represented Jamaica in the 1988 Olympics

Graham was banned for life from track and field for doping, Gatlin incurred a one-year ban, then a four-year ban for doping.  However, remember the doping was not just Gatlin, but Marian Jones, Tim Montgomery, and other athletes all of whom were coached by Trevor Graham.  Coincidence?

For the Rio Semi-Finals 200 meters, Gatlin did not even qualify for the finals, so he effectively spared himself from more booing.  However, he would not have been booed because the organizers rightly changed the way the athletes entered the stadium, but did he know that?  For the 100 meters they entered individually so Gatlin was alone and booed.  For the 200 meters, everyone entered together so individuals were not isolated for booing or cheering.  
I feel real proud of our Bolt having won the 100 meters and 200 meters and anchoring the 4 x 100 meters and I want him to continue winning.  Yet I feel sorry for Gatlin.  Remember the World Championship last year when Bolt beat Gatlin by one hundredth of a second.  The race was very close, and from the tears Gatlin shed after, one could conclude that he gave his all and had high hopes of winning, yet lightning Bolt struck him once again and he placed second. 

I am sure Gatlin thought that lightning would never strike the same place twice but he has been hit over and over again.    Congratulations to Bolt for his wins.  Sorry Mr. Gatlin.  You were just in the wrong place at the wrong time, and now your time is probably over.  Now I had finished this article (or so I thought) before the Men’s 4x100 meter relay finals, but after watching, and the reason the US was disqualified I have to add one more thing “You again Gatlin?”

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