EUGENE, United States: Justin Gatlin believes rival Usain Bolt will be fit for the Olympics after the injury scare that has left the Jamaican sprint king’s participation at the Rio de Janeiro games shrouded in uncertainty.
American star Gatlin — silver medalist behind Bolt at last year’s world championships — admitted he had been shocked by news of Bolt’s injury on Friday but is confident the six-time Olympic champion will be fit for Brazil.
“I got a text last night. I thought ‘Is it April Fools?’ Let me check the calendar,” Gatlin told reporters at the US Olympic trials in Eugene on Saturday.
“But crazy things happen in Olympic years, so we’ll see what happens,” added Gatlin, who launched his Olympic qualification bid with an opening time of 10.03 seconds to comfortably win his 100-meters heat on Saturday.
Bolt suffered a grade one hamstring tear at the Jamaican trials in Kingston and is now battling to be fit for Rio with the Olympic only five weeks away.
But Gatlin is in no doubt that Bolt will recover in time.
“I think it’s just the mystery in the air of the Olympics. It’s full of dreams and sometimes dreams don’t come true. But come on, man — he’s Usain.
“We’re going to see his face in Rio one way or another,” Gatlin said.
The 34-year-old veteran, who has been one of Bolt’s most consistent rivals in recent years, believes Jamaican officials would give the superstar every opportunity to make the team.
“At the end of the day when you command a certain power in track and field sometimes you can exercise it. That’s what’s happening right now — he’s injured, he has a medical pass, that’s what his country does,” added Gatlin, who has twice been banned for doping offenses during his career.
Another of Bolt’s rivals, Tyson Gay, added of Bolt’s injury: “It’s tradition.”
Both Gay and Gatlin were left trailing in the early rankings for the 100m here Saturday, with rising star Trayvon Bromell posting the quickest first round time of 9.94sec heading into Sunday’s semi-finals. AFP