Gatlin guns for record in Shanghai
Olympic and world champion Justin Gatlin yesterday said the world record for his speciality 100 metres is likely to fall again in what he expects to be a thrilling year ahead for the sport.
'Next year promises to be even more exciting than the past two years with the record almost certainly going down to 9.76 seconds, 9.75, or even 9.74,' the world's number one sprinter said yesterday in Shanghai ahead of this weekend's IAAF Grand Prix event.
'No doubt we didn't have Shawn Crawford this year, we didn't have a Maurice Greene at his best and Asafa [Powell] also ran into trouble in the thick of the season,' said American Gatlin. 'But I hope they will all get well next year and set even faster times.
'If I was asked to pick out the specific person who would set the new world mark, I would say it's going to be me.'
Gatlin's compatriot Crawford missed out all the season's majors owing to a foot problem while Greene has experienced the worst year of his career, and even failed to qualify for worlds.
Jamaican Powell set a world record of 9.77 this year but failed to shine in the worlds and other races, blaming a groin injury. Gatlin clocked 9.88 to snatch the 100-metre title at the world championships in Helsinki, Finland, last month and went on to secure a double with a further victory in the 200 metres.
The brace was a perfect follow-up to his 9.85 win at the Athens Olympics last summer. But not having a world record to his name remains a source of sadness for the 22-year-old.
'I will go for a new mark every race the rest of the season,' said Gatlin. 'If I don't make it, then it is definitely going to be achieved within the next year, for sure.'
Gatlin will be joined at Shanghai Stadium on Saturday by eight other competitors, including a recovered Greene and Aziz Zakari of Ghana.