US Olympic Track & Field: Justin Gatlin Leads Way in Impressive 100-Meter Dash

Kyle Newport@@KyleNewportFeatured ColumnistAugust 7, 2012

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 06:  Silver medalist Yohan Blake of Jamaica, gold medalist Usain Bolt of Jamaica and bronze medalist Justin Gatlin of the United States pose on the podium during the medal ceremony for the Men's 100m final
on Day 10 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium on August 6, 2012 in London, England.  (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Despite going up against Jamaica's Usain Bolt in the 2012 Olympics, Justin Gatlin led the United States to a great showing in the 100-meter dash on Sunday.

Bolt is the fastest man in the world, and Jamaica's Yohan Blake is also one of the best runners in the Olympics. The Americans did not have much of a chance to take home the gold, but they proved they are not going away without a fight.

The team had three runners compete in the finals, and they all had a great performance. Bolt literally ran away with the race, but two Americans finished close behind second place. Silver medalist Blake had beaten Bolt during Olympic qualifying, so it is a good sign that the runners managed to stay with him.

Bronze medal is no small feat, and it was an impressive race to watch. Team USA was made up of a couple veterans and a rookie. They showed the world they are able to run with the world's best, and the team needs to be proud of representing the country.

Gatlin, Tyson Gay and Ryan Bailey did not take home silver or gold, but they put on a show to make their country proud. 


Justin Gatlin

Going into the finals, Gatlin had the fastest time in the qualifying heats. He was timed at 9.82 seconds in the semifinals (per, and he was ready to show the world he was able to compete with the fastest men in the Olympics.

Although Bolt let up at the end in the semifinals, Gatlin also appeared to slow down. Both runners saved energy for the final showdown, and each improved their times. 

Gatlin set a personal best with a time of 9.79 seconds, according to He finished well behind Bolt, but he came within four one-hundredths of a second of Blake's time.

Coming into the Olympics, Gatlin looked ready to contend for another medal. He won gold in the 100-meter dash at the 2004 Olympics, but he had not competed in the event since then.

He has overcome a drug suspension earlier in his career, and he is now an Olympic medalist once again.

Winning bronze is a great accomplishment for any circumstance, but this was the fastest heat in the history of the Olympics. Three competitors finished sub-9.80 seconds, and another runner finished at 9.80 seconds.


Tyson Gay

The runner who finished at 9.80 seconds was Gay. He finished one one-hundredth of a second behind his teammate, and it was a season best for the runner.

Gay and Gatlin went head-to-head and finished at nearly the same time. While Gatlin came away with a silver medal, Gay settled for fourth place despite making it close.

While he did not reach the podium, he made a great improvement from the semifinals to the finals. In qualifying for the finals, he finished behind Blake with a time of 9.90 seconds. He managed to shed one-tenth of a second in the finals.

He overcame multiple injuries in recent years, and he was only a fraction of a second away from taking home an Olympic medal.

The teammates battled for bronze, but only one could come away on top. It could not have been any closer, so it was a great showing for Team USA.


Ryan Bailey

Entering the final race, Bailey was not expected to finish near the top.

His qualifying time of 9.96 seconds was the second slowest out of the eight finalists, so he ran without pressure. 

The young runner was clocked at 9.88 seconds in the finals, which was a personal best. He finished behind Gay, but he also finished well ahead of the last three runners.

Bailey did not have a chance to reach the podium, but he showed promise for the future. The 23-year-old performed very well in his first Olympics, and he will be in medal contention in future events.

Although Gatlin and Gay battled for bronze, Bailey held his own finishing right behind his teammates in fifth. While the other two Americans are on the downside of their careers, Bailey is just beginning and will run for gold in the next Olympics.