Highlights of their perfect moments are nonetheless out there on compact discs, perhaps even precise video tape. When teammates shout out, “Hey, previous man” — nicely, they know that is directed at them.
At first look, America’s Justin Gatlin and Jamaica’s Asafa Powell would possibly appear to be relics from a bygone age of sprinting. In actuality, they’re nonetheless within the combine — and never even a year-long postponement of the Tokyo Olympics goes to close them down.
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“I am prepared for this 12 months,” Powell informed The Related Press within the wake of the IOC’s announcement that the video games can be delayed as a result of coronavirus. ”I positively need to be prepared for subsequent 12 months.”
Make no mistake, they’re operating out of time.
Gatlin might be 39 when the Olympics lastly roll round and Powell, who turns 38 in November, might be steaming towards the identical quantity. Each males have been starting to make a reputation for themselves in observe earlier than a younger phenom named Usain Bolt had raced his first Olympics. Bolt, by the best way, is 33 and fortunately retired.
Each Gatlin and Powell are “Jeopardy” questions simply ready to be requested.
The final man to win an Olympic gold medal within the males’s 100 earlier than Bolt? That might be Gatlin.
The final man to carry the 100-meter world report earlier than Bolt? That might be Powell.
Gatlin gained the Olympics in 2004. “Looks like 5 years in the past,” he insists.
Powell set a world report in 2007, when he ran 9.74 seconds. Bolt topped it lower than a 12 months later and finally lowered the mark to its present standing of 9.58.
Gatlin and Powell suppose they might make a distinct sort of historical past in 2021. The oldest Olympic champion within the males’s 100 meters stays Linford Christie, who was 32 when he gained on the 1992 Barcelona Video games, in keeping with analysis by Olympic historian Invoice Mallon. As for the oldest Olympic medalist within the occasion, that distinction belongs to Gatlin, courtesy of his silver on the 2016 Rio Video games.
“It is fairly cool to know we will dangle with these youthful guys and nonetheless be aggressive,” Powell mentioned. “And be ones to reckon with for the gold medal.”
That is nothing to snicker at. Gatlin gained a silver medal on the world championships final 12 months. Powell, who’s wholesome after coping with nagging groin strains and hamstring tightness, mentioned he is nonetheless doing the identical reps on the similar tempo as when he was youthful.
This would possibly not be straightforward for the 30-somethings. American Christian Coleman gained the 100 final season on the world championships in Doha and his teammate, Noah Lyles, took the 200. Canada’s Andre De Grasse earned medals in each, and a few take into account him, not Gatlin or Powell, the prime challenger. None could have reached their 27th birthday by the point the beginning gun goes off in Tokyo.
“They’re very gifted,” Gatlin mentioned. “However sprinting additionally comes with understanding and studying and knowledge and a few persistence. These are all qualities you get as you become old.”
Life has modified for Gatlin, because it has for everybody, because the COVID-19 pandemic pressured the shutdown of gyms and coaching services throughout the nation. He is been squeezing in coaching periods on the grass in Clermont, Florida, and watching loads of exhibits on Netflix.
And but, there’s a lot that hasn’t modified.
Gatlin has by no means actually talked a lot about retirement, so there was by no means an assumption that he’d be performed, even after the 2020 Olympics have been over. He thought perhaps he’d dangle on for 2021, when the world championships have been presupposed to happen in Oregon — the primary time they’d been contested on American soil. It will have been a becoming send-off. However now, perhaps that meet will not occur till 2022.
These questions apart, Gatlin has a bit extra certainty in understanding he does not have to organize for Olympic trials in June or the Olympic observe meet, which might’ve began in August.
“It is now enterprise as regular,” mentioned Gatlin, who returned to trace in 2010 after a four-year doping ban. “I do not suppose a 12 months goes to vary something. … I am simply going to relaxation as a lot as I can.”
That is the identical blueprint for Powell, who was essentially the most beloved male sprinter in Jamaica earlier than Bolt — and perhaps throughout Bolt’s reign, too.
“It’s totally different not having (Bolt) round,” mentioned Powell, who examined optimistic for a stimulant in June 2013 and obtained a ban that was lowered on attraction to 6 months by the Courtroom of Arbitration for Sport. He later sued the producer of the complement and settled out of court docket. “He is only a celebrity.”
Regardless of his world-record pace, Powell’s nonetheless lacking a person gold medal at both the Olympics or world championships.
Might 2021 be the 12 months he lastly breaks by?
Solely time will inform.
“I feel will probably be thrilling to only even attempt,” Powell mentioned of prolonging his profession. “Simply the problem and understanding I’ve a very long time to work on sure facets of my recreation.”