Gatlin believes Bolt will be fit for Worlds

Monaco, July 17 (IANS) American sprinter Justin Gatlin believes Usain Bolt, Jamaica’s World record holder in the men’s 100 and 200 metres, will be fit for a spectacular showdown against him at the World Athletics Championships in Beijing in five weeks.

The in-form runner, 33, has the fastest times in the world this year, 9.74 seconds over the 100 metres and 19.57 seconds in the 200 metres, and has not yet lost once since the 2013 World Championships, winning all 22 races, Xinhua reported on Friday.

Bolt has been struggling with a left leg injury which forced the reigning Olympic and world champion to pull out of the Paris and Lausanne Diamond League meeting earlier this month. The 28-year-old confirmed last week that he’ll compete in London next Friday after an injury break.

However, Gatlin on Thursday declined to see it as the Jamaican skipping the Monaco race to avoid him and said he’s expecting a thrilling race against a top shape Bolt in Beijing.

“Do I think he is deliberately avoiding me? I don’t think so,” Gatlin told a pre-race press conference. “I think he is a great showman, the kind of guy that will wait until it’s right to run.”

“Hopefully the 100 and 200 finals in Beijing will be the right time for us to put on a spectacular show. I believe he’ll be fit. You definitely have to pay attention that he is coming for the gold medal,” he added.

The American also played down the importance of an International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) rule change made last November which outlines that athletes found guilty of doping offences would not be eligible for its end of season awards.

Gatlin himself has been twice banned for doping offences during his career, but he said he’s not bothered since his focus is on winning medals, not awards.

“I don’t train to get awards,” he said. “I train to get medals. So, that’s really not a problem for me.”

The 2004 Athens Olympic champion and 2005 world title winner will race against fellow Americans Tyson Gay and Trayvon Bromell as well as European record holder Jimmy Vicaut of France in the men’s 100m on Friday.

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