Sprinter Gatlin confident of beating Bolt in 2016

Brussels, Sep 11 (IANS) Resurgent American sprinter Justin Gatlin has remain unfazed by his losses to Usain Bolt at last month’s Beijing World Championships and says once he can continue to improve, beating Olympic and World champion will remain a possibility.

Gatlin entered last month’s World Championships as the favourite in both sprints only to be trounced by the 29-year-old Jamaican superstar, reports CMC.

The 33-year-old Gatlin said he was already eyeing next year’s Olympics in Rio.

“It’s all about growth and getting better and better,” Gatlin said here Thursday ahead of the season-ending IAAF Diamond League meet.

“The margin of the race is getting smaller and smaller. I just have to make sure I step my game up. So next year I hope to do even better.”

While Bolt struggled for form this season, Gatlin wrote all the headlines. He clocked a world-leading 9.74 seconds in Doha in May and then posted another world-leading 19.57 seconds in the 200 metres at the US national trials in Oregon the following month.

However, he was forced to play second fiddle to Bolt in both sprints at the Bird’s Nest Stadium, as his long-striding rival repeated as World double sprint champion.

A two-time drugs cheat, Gatlin only returned to the track five years ago in an attempt to resuscitate his career.

He picked up bronze in both sprints at the London Olympics and then silver in both events last month as he trailed Bolt home.

Gatlin, however, does feel as if time is against him in his quest for a major title.

“I don’t think I’m going to hit a limit, like I’m 34 and I can’t learn anything anymore,” he explained.

“I think a lot of athletes when they get in their mid and late 30s, they focus more on kids, on family. In the last three years, I just focus on being a better athlete and trying to improve my flaws.”

Gatlin will headline the Brussels meet, with appearances in both sprints here Friday.

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