Justin Gatlin’s Career Potentially ends in a Fizzle
A disqualification for the United States men in the final of the 4X100m relay made them lose their gold medal, and potentially end the career of Justin Gatlin on a bad note.
The violation occurred during the handoff between Gatlin and teammate Mike Rodgers, when Gatlin reached back and touched the baton before the specified take-over zone, which qualifies as a disqualification. The United States, which also featured Trayvon Bromell and Tyson Gay, had originally finished with the bronze medal, behind Jamaica and Japan. They took their victory lap before learning that they had been eliminated. Canada then stepped up to earn the bronze.
This is another chapter in what has become an embarrassing book of flubs and faux pas for American men in relay races. In eight of the last 12 major championships, Olympics or worlds, the American men either haven’t finished or have been disqualified in the relay. The Americans still have not earned a medal in the event since the 2004 games in Athens.
The 34-year old Brooklyn native, Gatlin is probably participating in his last Olympics, making his Rio showing a disappointing one. He was posting nearly the best times in his entire life as of late, albeit controversially, making him one of the favorites to take home medals in the 100m, 200m, and 4X100m relay. After Usain Bolt had an injury in the Jamaican Trials, many even thought that he had a chance to earn gold in one or all of them.
Bolt proved in the 100m that he was the same old legend, but Gatlin was as close as anyone could be, earning the silver medal, setting himself up for what looked to be a productive Olympics. However, he finished third in his semifinal heat in the 200m, after he looked over into the other lanes before finishing, leaving him out of the final in an embarrassing development. The relay mistake was then just another bad mark on his Olympic track record, which has disappointed greatly despite his immense talent.
It’s possible that Gatlin will try to continue to defy his age and gun for another Olympics in 2020. His poor performance may add even more fuel to fire for his return. However, this recent showing has proved that he isn’t near the top of the world anymore, and it’s time for him to ride off into the sunset along with Bolt and let the new group of sprinters step forward.
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