As a former amateur sprinter it is with awe that I looked upon the achievement of Justin Gatlin this weekend in Qatar. His 9.76 in the 100 meters is almost impossible to fathom, yet he is not satisfied and is already pushing to run a 9.73 in June in NYC. Gatlin has it in his head that he can run a 9.60 sometime, given similar conditions to what he ran in this weekend in Qatar. He broke the record that Jamaican phenom Asafa Powell set last year in Athens, a pedestrian 9.77.
I ran a 10.80 in high school and that was considered fast. I lost to guys who ran 10.6’s and a rare 10.4 (to win state and set a state record). So, to see a guy run .7 a second faster than the fastest I ever raced against, is amazing. It is like a guy in the NFL running a 3.9 second 40-yard dash when everyone else considered fast is running 4.3 (which is in fact quite fast). I like having that previous experience for perspective and it helps make me a true fan of the sport, but it also allows me to be completely dumbfounded by an achievement such as Justin Gatlin’s this weekend. The best part is that Justin described his race as "patient". A virtue indeed in an event lasting less than 10 seconds.
Gatlin and Powell will race head to head later this summer in England on June 11th and if the right weather conditions are to be had, well it is England so I won’t hold my breath, they could push the field to break Gatlin’s 9.76.