Retired Jamaican sprinter – Usain St. Leo Bolt has revealed that it was his rivalry with Justin Gatlin that kept him flying throughout his career.

Considered to be the greatest sprinter of all time having won the 100m and 200m gold medals at three consecutive Olympics – 2008, 2012, and 2016, Bolt faced fierce competition from the American sprinter [Gatlin] at major events.

The experienced Gatlin was the prime force at the 2004 Olympics, winning the sprint events as Usain Bolt failed to progress beyond the first round.

From 2008, however, it was Bolt who became the face of athletics to a large extent, becoming undefeated at major games for almost 9 years.

Gatlin returned to the sport in 2010 but found it impossible to get the better of the Jamaican. He was eliminated at the semi-final stage of the 2011 World Championships, placed third at 2012 Olympics, was second at the 2013 World Championships. Gatlin again finished runner-up to Bolt in both the 100m and 200m at the 2015 World Championships and again took silver at Rio Olympics in 2016.

The American did, however, manage to turn the tables on Bolt at the 2017 World Championships where he claimed gold, with the Jamaican finishing in third place in the final race before he retired.

“Justin Gatlin played a very important role in keeping me motivated because he kept me on my toes, he kept me working out,” Bolt explained during Puma’s Only See Great campaign.

“He kept me knowing that every season he’s going to be there, if I want to be the best I have to be ready and be prepared to beat him,” he added.

Overall, the Jamaican leads the head-to-head match-up between the athletes with a 9-2 advantage, but he admits with Gatlin and others around he always had to look over his shoulder.

“The rivalries were strong and for me Tyson and Justin and Asafa and Blake, they really pushed me through my career to stay on top of my game at all times to be the best me.”