Over a decade after his first triumph, Justin Gatlin added a fifth Olympic medal to his collection Sunday, finishing second in the 100-meter dash at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
The 34-year-old jumped out to a quick start, but Jamaica's Usain Bolt surpassed him and earned the gold with a time of 9.81 seconds. Gatlin checked in at 9.89 seconds, while Canada's Andre de Grasse won bronze with a mark of 9.91 seconds.
NBC Olympics shared the finish:
Gatlin won bronze in the 100 meters at the 2012 Games after capturing gold in 2004. His win in Athens, Greece, couldn't have been much closer: He finished the race in 9.85 seconds, while Francis Obikwelu and Maurice Greene came in second and third at 9.86 and 9.87 seconds, respectively.
Only 22 at the time, Gatlin looked to be the next great American track star, joining Greene, Michael Johnson and Carl Lewis, among many others.
Then, in 2006, the United States Anti-Doping Agency handed down an eight-year ban after Gatlin tested positive for banned substances. An arbitration panel reduced the suspension to four years in 2008, though he still had to miss the Beijing Games.
Gatlin returned to the track and proceeded to reverse the aging curve. Typically, sprinters have a small window for success, and they get noticeably slower around 30 years old. Even Bolt, arguably the most dominant sprinter in history, hasn't been immune to the effects of aging.
Gatlin, on the other hand, started running better in his 30s than he had as a gold medalist in Athens. Below is a look at his 100-meter times at the IAAF World Championships since his comeback in 2010:
|Justin Gatlin: 100-Meter Dash (2010-16)|
Given the past indiscretions, many have questioned the legitimacy of Gatlin's success. In May 2015, he dismissed the issue, per the Telegraph's Ben Bloom:
I think it's ridiculous.
My situation was 2006 – that was a decade ago. They need to go and see what is happening in the medical world, don't come to me with that.
A lot of people have been in the same situation I have been in. I'm not sure why you would match a laboratory mouse to a human being, that's unfathomable to me.
The San Diego Union-Tribune's Mark Zeigler thought Gatlin's situation was questionable, given how the International Olympic Committee handled Russian athletes who may have had past doping issues:
Going to Rio and winning a medal was a fitting end, though, for a star who has become a controversial figure on the track. Gatlin described himself as the "Batman" of the sport and "a vigilante," per the Associated Press' Pat Graham (via ESPN.com).
In what will almost certainly be his last Olympics, Gatlin was able to reach the podium in spite of his critics one last time.