Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Gatlin: I Will Raise Standards

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Gatlin: I Will Raise Standards

Article excerpt


NEWLY- CROWNED Olympic 100 metres champion Justin Gatlin today pledged to put something "positive" back into the blue riband event after major drugs controversies have marred sprinting's image in the last year.

The build-up to the Athens Olympics has been dominated by the American doping scandal involving Marion Jones and her partner Tim Montgomery, the positive test of Britain's Dwain Chambers and the Greek scandal involving reigning Olympic 200m champion Kostas Kenteris.

After winning the closest 100m final in the 106-year history of the Olympics last night, Gatlin said: "We want to bring something positive back into the sport. I am honoured to be in one of the best races in history and in the fastest Olympic race ever.

"I want to show track and field just how hard we work. I want to show the sport has more to offer than you expect."

Gatlin himself was barred from competition after failing a drugs test in 2001 but he was reinstated by the IAAF, the governing body of athletics, the following year.

In a blanket finish, which saw the first five sprinters dip under 10 seconds, the 22-year-old American took the gold in a personal best 9.85 seconds. Defending champion Maurice Greene had to settle for third behind Portugal's Francis Obikwelu.

But just 0.02 seconds separated the medallists in the closest 1-2-3 since electronic timing began at the 1968 Mexico Games.

Nigerian-born Obikwelu's time of 9.86secs removed Linford Christie's name from the European record books. The Briton had held the 100m record for 11 years after clocking 9.87secs to win the world title in Stuttgart in 1993.

Last night's race was held in an extraordinary atmosphere in a packed Olympic Stadium. The sprinters were bouncing about in the warm-up just minutes before the race as the crowd clapped to the theme tune from "Zorba the Greek".

After worries about empty seats and unsold tickets have marred the first week of the Games, the ambiance in Athens really took off over the weekend. …

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