OSTRAVA, June 16- In-form US sprinter Justin Gatlin is “upset” to be missing a showdown with Usain Bolt at the Czech Golden Spike meet on Tuesday as the Jamaican pulled out looking to recover from a foot injury.
“It was my plan to come… being ranked number one and being able to race against Bolt,” Gatlin told reporters before the meet in the eastern Czech city of Ostrava.
“I think this would have been a great rematch for us. Hopefully I’ll see him down the road this season — also (Yohan) Blake and all the other fast runners,” said the American who has clocked the three fastest 100m times this year.
In Ostrava, Gatlin, who leads the tables with 9.87sec this year, will take on compatriot Mike Rodgers, veteran Kim Collins of St Kitts and Nevis, and South Africa’s Simon Magakwe, who has a season’s best of 9.98.
“Mike Rodgers is always a strong opponent. You can never count out Kim Collins… I think Kim Collins is a vampire. He has amazing powers,” he joked of the 38-year-old.”
“But my focus is going to be my lane. I want to bring the audience on to the track. Have fun with it.
“Tomorrow I’m looking for a good 9.7sec, or maybe even a little faster. The competition looks good. Hopefully the weather will hold up and it will be a great race,” said Gatlin.
“I’ve been really competitive this season and it’s shown on my efforts on the track. The goal is to keep going forward this season and stay undefeated and still go to faster times,” said the 32-year-old, whose personal best of 9.79sec when winning bronze behind Bolt and Blake at the 2012 London Olympics.
Gatlin has already competed in Ostrava, running the 200m in 2004, shortly before going on to win the Olympic 100m gold in Athens in the same year.
“Ostrava is my good luck charm. Hopefully again you’ll see me at the world championships next year and then the Olympics: that will be my key — to win Ostrava and then win the Olympics,” he laughed.
At the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Gatlin would be 34.
“There’s no set rule that says that when you reach 30 you’re slow,” said Gatlin, who served a four-year ban for doping between 2006-10.
“I feel like I want to break that rule and show that I’m only getting better and better with age because I’m becoming wiser and learning my craft and my race.”