Gatlin not ready to be called the new Carl Lewis
Justin Gatlin has staked his claim as the world's most dominant sprinter, winning a world 100 metres title on Sunday to go with his Olympic championship.
Do not, however, call him the new Carl Lewis.
"I cannot even put my name next to his," the 23-year-old Gatlin said after winning his first world title in the same stadium where Lewis collected the first world 100 metres crown at the inaugural championships in 1983.
"Even to know he has run on the same track is kind of eerie to me," Gatlin said
"I want to walk in those footsteps," Gatlin said after clocking 9.88 seconds. I want to be a champions of champions because that's what he is."
Gatlin's 0.17-second margin of victory over Jamaican Michael Frater was the largest ever in a championships 100 metres final. Lewis held the previous best with a 0.14-second advantage in 1983.
Now Gatlin wants to close the medals gap on Lewis, who won nine Olympic and five individual world championship golds before retiring.
"I am still hungry," said the low-key sprinter with the powerful finish.
"I want to go out there and win every championship there is," said Gatlin, who hopes to add world titles in the 200 metres and 4x100 metres relay before leaving Helsinki.
A blazing final 40 metres brought Gatlin the 100 gold medal. Never the fastest starter, he moved up with the leaders by 40 metres and at about 50 metres knew he was on his way to victory.
"I let out a yell, because I knew it was over," said a smiling Gatlin. "I knew my stride length was unmatchable at that time. I think this race really stakes my claim as a champion."
Former world record holder Maurice Greene said Gatlin was the only man in the field capable of running 9.8 and that he had done what he had to do.
"He's run so consistently all year and that's what he did tonight. He just puts pressure on everybody else," said Greene, who missed the event because of an injury in the US championships' final.
World record holder Asafa Powell was not as charitable. "I thought to myself, if I was in the race, I would have won," said Powell, who is injured and will miss the entire championships.
Powell called the race "a great one", however, and said Gatlin was "a great champion."
Both he and Greene plan to be waiting for Gatlin at Zurich in less than two weeks.
Gatlin, who also plans to run at Sheffield and Brussels, said he would be waiting. "Even if Powell was here running, I still feel I am No. 1," Gatlin said. "I was the one who came to the big dance and stole the show."