Gatlin Ready For Worlds, But Says Bolt Can Strike At Anytime

EUGENE (Sporting Alert) — Justin Gatlin won’t jump the gun, but the American sprinter believes he is definitely on course to make the World Championships team for Beijing, this summer.

Gatlin, who is targeting the sprint double in China, in August, has been the most consistent sprinter in the last season and a half, and he continued his early season form with another leading mark for the 200m on the second day at the IAAF 2015 Prefontaine Classic Diamond League meeting in Eugene, Saturday.

The 33-year-old sped to victory over the half lap event at Hayward Field in a new world-leading time of 19.68 seconds, which improved the previous 2015 best standard of 19.99 secs, set by American Dedric Dukes on May 16.

Gatlin’s run also bettered the previous meeting record of 19.72secs, set by Walter Dix in 2010, while equalling his personal best from last year — and the 2005 IAAF World Championships sprint champion believes he is in form to punch his ticket to Beijing.

“When I saw the time, I know I’m on course to go onto the World Championships,” the veteran sprint said in an interview with NBC after his victory.

Gatlin added that things are looking good for the possible matchups with the likes of world record holder Usain Bolt and the rest of the top sprinters in the 2015 and 2016 major championships seasons.

“It’s poised for great competition,” he said. “It’s going to be a real rumble in the jungle.”

The American also owns the fastest time over the 100m this season, after posting a very swift personal best of 9.74 second to open his outdoor campaign at the IAAF Diamond League meet in Doha, two weeks ago.

Meanwhile, reigning world sprint double champion Bolt, who remains the man to beat at the major championships, has made a slow start to his campaign.

The Jamaican, who said he used most of last season to recover from two challenge terms, has a seasonal best of 20.13 seconds for the 200m, while his fastest so far over the 100m is 10.12.

But despite Bolt not racing at his best at the moment, Gatlin still remains cautious, as he believes the major championships are when the 28-year-old usually shows up.

“(Bolt) is the kind of guy who’s going to rise to the occasion when it’s time to go,” Gatlin admitted. “I’m looking for a time, every time he runs this year, the time’s going to steadily drop and drop and drop.

“By the time, maybe the [Worlds] semis like he did in 2012 [at the Olympics], he just woke up [9.87] jogging and he came out and ran [9.63] in the finals.

“That’s what I’m looking to see out of Usain Bolt coming in this year at the World Championships.”