Athens, Aug. 23: Under 10 seconds flat and stretched over 100 metres, the world had a blurred glimpse of five men transforming themselves into machines last night.
Asafa Powell: 9.94 seconds
Shawn Crawford: 9.89 seconds
Maurice Greene: 9.87 seconds
Francis Obikwelu: 9.86 seconds
Justin Gatlin: 9.85 seconds
Gatlin became a star in a split second, a fairytale finish for a boy who was diagnosed with attention deficit disorder in fourth grade. There is also an astounding footnote: A man who is swift enough to clock 9.89 seconds, Crawford — Gatlin’s training partner — went home without a medal.
Never at an Olympics had more than four men run under 10 seconds over 100 meters. Never at the Games had so many burners burst from the blocks, heads down, hearts pulsating, and flown across the finish line so swiftly.
“You know, what’s funny. Before the race I, was fretting a bit, and I walked back to my locks and changed my block positions a little at the last moment. Yes, this was my best ever start and my best ever finish and I’m sure, as sure as now that I’m carrying my country’s flag that I carry the hope of all youngsters of today. That’s a great feeling,” Gatlin told The Telegraph.
“I dedicate this race to my high school coach. Without him, I wouldn’t be where I am today. This entire season is for him,” he told a news conference later.
After being diagnosed with the affliction, he had taken medication. In 2001, the medication came up as an amphetamine in a drug test and led to a two-year suspension. He received early reinstatement when it was learned the drug was to treat his condition.
The enormous symbolic value of the victory was not lost on Gatlin. “I want to show that nice guys can finish first. I feel that I’m likeable. I feel that I’m honest.”
The 22-year-old, a student of communication at the University of Tennessee, added: “I just want to give a good image to the sport. I’m not saying that anybody’s tainted the sport, but I think it’s my turn to show that there’s a lot of good people out there”.
Greene, who once called himself the “greatest of all time” and tattooed the acronym GOAT onto his right bicep, told the press meet that he is “not done yet” and that he will “continue to get better”.
Before that, when he was reminded of his famous quote of blind faith that took him to the world record, Greene told The Telegraph: “Yes, one must have total faith. That is what gets you anywhere in life, any time and in any sphere. Self motivation is the need.”
So how does he motivate himself' “You see, I have yet to catch up with myself, I haven’t reached my best yet, I fight for that. That is my motivation.”